It's been four long years since the last world cup took place in Germany, when Italy beat France for the prestigious cup! This Friday the referee’s whistle will mark the beginning of the first world cup of this decade, hosted for the first time in the African continent. The 2010 FIFA World Cup will be in its 19th edition and it’s scheduled to take place between 11 June and 11 July 2010 in South Africa. Soccer mania is seen everywhere: outdoor advertising, print, radio, mobile and online, with media spends this year higher than any other year.
Some of the biggest soccer stars today like: Messi, Torres, Ronaldo, Kaka, Beckham and many others will take part on the world's most-watched sporting event. According to the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ / Infront Sports & Media, billions of people watched the World cup, and a good chuck of it did so in 2006 via online, from which we can only speculate that those numbers will rise tremendously this year. Here are the 2006 numbers: FIFAWorldCup.com became the most successful sports event website in history with 4.2 billion page views from June 9 - July 9 — more than double the traffic recorded during the 2002 event. More than 125 million video streams, and more than 73 million page views on the mobile web portal after FIFAWorldCup.com went mobile for the first time. So, this clearly demonstrates that the online medium has grown quite a bit and that there is a huge market that can be prove to be high lucrative to tap into.
New and existing brands that support FIFA are beginning to spend more time and money in online marketing and have come up with many different ways to capture the loyal soccer fans attention to grab a piece of the pie. It’s all about making a good and long lasting impression, capturing the most eye balls and highest participation possible. Smart branding for an event of this magnitude and scale is key!
But before taking a look at the participating brands involved in this whole marketing game, let’s see how the hosting nation is branding itself to impress the world.
In preparation to this worldwide event, South Africa spent billions of dollars to brand itself the best way possible. Five new stadiums were built for the tournament and five existing venues have been upgraded. In addition to the stadiums being built and upgraded, South Africa has also improved its current public transport infrastructure within the various cities, with state of the art transportation systems and projects. Hotels, restaurants, parks and many other hospitality establishments have also spent millions preparing for this big event to be ready to accommodate visitors to full capacity.
South Africa has also implemented safety and security measures for local and international tourists attending the largest event in the world. Overall, the country has invested almost $10 billion, in four years leading this event, which they hope to be a great success and view the whole thing as an investment in the long run. That’s a lot of money for a developing nation struggling with so many internal problems like health and crime. Let’s just hope that what happened to Greece at the Olympics doesn’t replicate here a few years later!
South Africa has put a lot on the line in the name of branding itself to the world the hard way, but are they investing money in social media channels the same way World Cup sponsors have?
Let’s now take a look at how well some brands are doing branding themselves particularly in the online side of the business.
Official FIFA sponsors and sports/soccer centric brands have invested a great deal of money in social media for this World Cup. All of the official World Cup sponsors (and many non-official sponsors too) have been busy working on the newest application that can connect fans with a global social media audience via Facebook and their mobile phones, the most engaging viral marketing campaign and the most fun and simple ways to engage audiences and get them to participate.
Here is a list of brands that are present at this edition of the World Cup (some of them long-standing sponsors): McDonald’s, Powerade, Continental, Sony Ericsson, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Visa, Budweiser, Emirates, Nike, Puma, Umbro, and many others. However, not all of these made the cut on my short list of brands worth mentioning that have done a great job branding themselves at this year’s World Cup with solid online marketing campaigns and should capitalize from social media. These top player brands include: Sony Ericsson, Visa, Adidas, Coca-Cola and Budweiser.
Sony Ericsson - One of the long-term sponsors of the World Cup.
Power of Twitter - With Twittercup, Sony has proven to keep it as simple as possible, with a smart Twitter campaign that tells us social media and sports are a natural fit. The Twittercup collects and counts fan tweets, creating a competition among attending nations. The good is that since its launch in December 2009, the Twittercup has already amassed 43,000 tweets, the bad is that I cannot seem to easily find this on Twitter only the Sony site.
Visa – They have replicated a social application format used during the Olympics that proved to be highly successful called: social media match planner.
Adidas – A World Cup sponsor heavy weight in so many levels, Adidas has been a sponsor of the game since 1954.
TV Soccer Celebrity Ads – Adidas is relying heavily on a big budget TV ads with soccer celebrities like: Kaka, Michael Ballack, Messi, Villa and Zidane called: Fast vs Fast featuring their F50 adizero boots and trying to spark social media conversation on Facebook. At almost 80,000 views thus far, the video count is quite low for a big player in the game known for killer creative ads.
Nevertheless, Adidas has a huge advantage for being a close and strategic partner of the cup with the match ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, manufactured by them and provides with boots and wear to many of the players and teams, giving them perhaps the most direct exposure and appeal to a fan.
Coca-Cola – Another brand heavy weight and present at the World Cup since 1974.
Funny UGC YouTube Video Contest – Coca-Cola has taken inspiration from Roger Milla’s 1990 corner flag dance to encourage users to upload their own unique celebrations on to YouTube, the winner of get to go to the World Cup. UGC funnies have proven to be very successful and the simplest the better, so Coke scores high here. Additionally, Coca-Cola is perhaps the largest brand on Facebook with 5.5 million fans and a huge following on Twitter, where the contest is nicely supported.
Budweiser – A well-known brand with a long standing history of success on branding and a sponsored of the World Cup since 1986.
YouTube Reality Show: Budweiser United – Budweiser held a global audition via YouTube to find 32 fans from respective World Cup countries who will live together in South Africa “Real World” style. Once the Cup kicks off Budweiser will create a YouTube reality show documenting the fans as they play out their rivalries en masse. As their team is eliminated so the house member will be kicked out. The two final fans will go to the World Cup final and the winner will present the Budweiser man of the match trophy to the best player. Facebook will play a supporting a strong supporting role.
This one can prove to be the most creative social media campaign that promises to have a lot of legs, since it uses the two strongest channels in social media to replicate a reality show that was very compelling and successful among fans altogether, and may take reality shows to a new level and platform.
What do you think?
Who is faring the best in Social Media?
How well has South Africa done preparing for this colossal event? Have they neglected social media?
Share your thoughts!
Tags: adidas, africa, applications, audience, ball, Branding, brands, budweiser, challenge, coca-cola, coke, competition, contests, continental, emirates, facebook, fans, FIFA, fun, likes, mascot, mcdonalds, media, nike, online marketing, players, powerade, reality, shows, soccer, social, social media, sony ericsson, south africa, Sports, stars, streaming, twitter, umbro, videos, visa, world cup, youtube