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!
How many times per week do you ask your friends: “Where are you?” There is no doubt social networking on your mobile phone is a big opportunity. According to Emarketer, the size of this market is expanding fast. 800 million people will be using their phones as mobile networking devices by 2012. (It was about 82 million in 2007).
So, who's playing in this market? Who's worth your (limited) attention? Here's a few that might kick up some dust:
Sniffu. Really? That's one of the worst names I've heard in a while. While the name sucks, they got some things right. I like the value proposition. It makes immediate sense. I also like that they don't seem to be trying to do too much. Keeping it simple. Their “Safety” page clearly illustrates the big issue all of these companies face: “Do people really want other people to know where they are in real time?”
Dodgeball is an established player in start-up terms. Odd name. Not certain I get it. On the positive side, they did some good work on the user interface to explain what it is. I think the experience can be improved by giving the user more control of the animations.
Loopt got their partnerships down. Last week, they did a deal with Yelp. This makes a lot of sense for established and new Yelp users. Loopt is in a good position to make some moves. It works on 80+ phones, which I think is a real critical factor to success.
Next2Friends: Decent design. I found it interesting that these guys are funded by Simon - a real estate company. Why? Well, they own a bunch of malls, so they might possibly be making a play for mall-rats. “I'm in the store! Come see me while i try on some new boots!”
Their “Proximity Tagging” uses P2P Bluetooth to connect and record relative matches to other users and businesses that you come into close proximity to. Smart play for a real estate company. However, they have to be careful with the user experience. Make it too commercially driven and they risk alienating users.
Zannel is all about life-streaming. Share your pictures and video. Unfortunately, they stuff the UI with Google ads. This ruins it for me. Sorry lads and ladies. That's not the way to go. Please, let's see less - not more - clutter.
Radar has done a really nice job on their interface. Smart and clean design. For many users, photos drives sharing. Radar gets it.
Plazes Back in 2007, I wrote a post about them here. I wasn't too happy about their user experience at the time. They fixed it and they just got acquired by Nokia last month. That means this is possibly the gorilla to watch. Coming out of Berlin, Plazes is still a bit German-centric and, as with all mobile social networks , that's a challenge if you live in Los Angeles (or any other US city).
Another player in this space seems to be Brightkite, who seems to be in private BETA. I've not tried it yet, but I'll give it a run once I get access.
Ah yes, the timed honored tradition of training rats to press a button a get some cheese. Er… wrong metaphor. Ah… the time honored tradition of tying a carrot to a stick and making that dead horse walk an extra click to get some meaningless play gold that has no utility in real life other than to provide bored office workers with something to do other than actual work…
I might have messed up that analogy too. Whatevs.
Social game applications - Facebook gaming apps and mobile gaming apps in particular - use this tactic to such an extreme degree I'm not sure the game concepts come first or the actual clicky button-y thingies.
We want them to click a button that gives them shiny coins!
Yes, but what kind of button?
A red button.
Awesome. But… why are they clicking the button?
Oh. Well, shit. Um, because they're at an airport. And, and… they run the airport! They decide what airlines are coming and what chains to have in the food court and how to run security.
OMFG! That's genius! We'll make them click a red button so they can get coins and upgrade their airport. But not enough coins to get the really good stuff. They need to buy special Frequent Flyer Coins to get the good stuff.
Yeah. It'll be sweet.
So, sarcasm aside, it obviously works. Farmville has 89 million users on Facebook and Foursquare is rounding the corner on a million smart phone users. What would be interesting is to see the real drop off points. How many of those users installed the apps and never came back but never uninstalled? How many played obsessively for a week or two or even a month and suddenly dropped it altogether? There's something missing in the formula. How do you engage a user - obsessively - for extended periods of time past even one or two months?
Because these apps are “free” and easy to obtain the user investment in the beginning is low. You need to hook them fast and the most readily available form or digital crack is fast levelling, easy badges and lots and lots of coins. You'll eventually loose your users but maybe you've made enough to build the next game. And the next and the next. It's a slash and burn strategy that is quite frankly as boring as it is addictive. Which is kind of like watching paint dry - eventually you get so bored you hit this zen like place in your head you don't even know where you are anymore. Experience The Nothingness of Click.
Funny enough, the ads for most of these games say things like 'Hey our game is different. We've got a real story. It's not just click farming!' They lie. Straight up. There's just not enough content in these games to keep your interested. There's just not enough variety in the button clicks to keep you going forever.
What's the solution? Well, I don't really know. Sorry for the anti-climax. But I think it's in the social part of the equation. Monopoly had an awesome Google Maps integrated game last year that was very popular. If they had better anticipated that popularity we might still be playing it right now. The idea of augmented reality and geo-location apps is still pretty exciting. Social play that ties in real life experience with game-like elements isn't a new concept but it's one still begging to be perfected.
Written by Ryan Nash
There seems to me to be a two kinds of mobile social users: the Mobile Gamer and the Mobile Braggart.
If you're in the tech industry, as I am, you're one of these two whether you like it or not. It's merely a matter of personal preference. You can “think different” with all your iPhone buddies, look important on your BlackBerry or even hang with the new disciples of Android and still fall into one of these two categories, although I have my opinion which users fall pretty hard into the Braggart definition.
The Mobile Gamer
A gamer is an imaginitive individual at heart with strong escapist tendencies who loves to assume alternative personnas and waste valuable time acquiring vast hordes of e-stuff (read: treasure, coins, $, dead dragons, etc). I fall squarely into this category. The Mobile Gamer is interested in the actual game mechanics, the gameplay challenges, the refining of strategies and the satisfaction of winning.
The Mobile Braggart
A Mobile Braggart wants everyone, everwhere to know exactly what they are doing, where they are doing it and who they're doing it with. It can be as simple as getting breakfast on a Sunday morning with friends after a “crazy” Saturday night hopping from hotspot to hotspot. Checkin. Tweet about how awesome this event is. Checkin somewhere else. Tweet about how awesome the late-night food is. Checkin. Post a picture of your totally amazing Sunday brunch with friends. It really is that amazing.
Written by Ryan Nash (mobile gamer and escapist artiste)
I find the brewing battle between Foursquare, Gowalla and MyTown to be really exciting. At this point, I'd have to say Foursquare is going to be the winner - no surprise. They're making the right plays, signing a new deal with big brands almost every week and are cornering the market on PR. But they're missing something… It's not really fun to “play” Foursquare.
Foursquare and Gowalla fit more into the Mobile Braggart category. There's not much of a game mechaninc; they're really just vehicles for social expression (read: my life is so interesting!) so I find it hard to care. One might argue that these apps aren't intended as gaming platforms but I'd disagree. Explore your city and unlock badges… that's a blatant game mechanic - carrot-on-a-stick tactic - designed to keep users coming back. Look at the icons and the badge names, the general design even. They're definitely games desgined on a massive social scale. They're just lacking anything particularly game-like to do.
So, what am I whining about? Just this - they're not doing a lot to make due on the actual gaming promise. MyTown, on the other hand, is very much a game. In fact, they've come at it from a different angle - nailing down the gaming mechanics and now quickly adding in the social elements. Was this the right play? Well, they have over 1.5 million users; a number that neither Foursquare or Gowalla can boast. But, MyTown doesn't have the brand recognition that Foursquare or even Gowalla does so they're deficient in that area.
My bet, which shouldn't be a surprise, is that even though MyTown has garnered as many users as they have on the actual strength of their product they're going to be surpassed by Foursquare. Probably very soon. My hope is Foursquare takes a bit of their hard earned dollars and builds out more the gaming part of their universe. Maybe take a few plays from the MyTown playbook and give me a reason to actually use their application. Bragging about my interesting life isn't enough to hold my attention. But bragging about how great I am at gaming could definitely get me out of hiding.
Written by Ryan Nash
Ugh. Ok, so I tried giving this topic a few weeks to sink and see if I could calm down about it but, no, I'm still not happy. Usually I'm all about new technology, online services, gizmos, gadgets and digital products that make my already considerably cushy life just that much cushier. Particularly, little things like Amazon remembering who I am everytime I come back, recommending books and holding all my credit cards on file, or Google's slightly big-brothery-I-know-exactly-where-you-are-and-no-don't-bother-clearing-your-cache-'cause-we've got-your-click-pathing-profiled-already tweaks to Google Maps, search ads and every other product they've built. Seriously, who doesn't want their map to zoom to your current location on load? Maybe I've just become used to that level of creepiness.
But Facebook, man. Holy crap. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love technology. I loves me some technology, but this is getting a bit much. I seriously, absolutely, positively do not want to show up on some site for the first time and see my entire friends list laid out in front of me with message and product suggestions tailored specifically to my own unique brand of stupid Facebook comments. There's stuff all over my profile that I wouldn't want showing up when visiting another site in any circumstance - voluntary or not.
Now some people might say I'm splitting hairs. Amazon, among others, tailors their product offering directly to you based on your usage patterns - searches, favorites, purchases, etc - but that's a sort of walled garden of hyper-specific marketing. I have to sign in to access this data, at least once when setting up my account and possibly every time I return, to get all these targetted offerings. Facebook, on the other hand, is proposing to just sign you up. Seriously. You've never been there but you're signed up the second you land on the page.
“…we’ve also explained the possibility of working with some partner websites that we pre-approve to offer a more personalized experience at the moment you visit the site.”
Is this the end of the world? Well, no. But it certainly feels like an invasion of privacy and a betrayal of trust. [More on trust in a minute.] I'll give you an example that I don't find to be far-fetched at all. Let's say I go to Sports Illustrated for the first time because I've just got to get a Swimsuit Calendar for my wall. Why? Maybe I'm lonely. Maybe it's none of your business. Oh, snap. That's just it! It is none of your business. But my good buddy decides to go to Sports Illustrated too. Maybe he's there for the same calendar or maybe he's there to read an “article”. Haha. Anyway, he might see a great, big picture of my face saying, 'Hey Buddy, your friend Ryan just bought a steamy Swimsuit Calendar.' Probably because he's lonely… That sucks. You see where I'm going with it though.
Is Facebook going to protect users from situations like that? Will they stop it at merely signing you in to a site you've never been before and restricting the “general information” from spreading out in concentric circles of shame and irritation? I doubt it. Facebook has betrayed our trust before. Beacon anyone? New opt-in-only privacy settings? Facebook will of course give users the usual convoluted privacy settings but make no mistake, you'll be opted in until you find the stupid setting to turn it off. I hope…
I realize the web - and mobile for that matter - are travelling in this direction at break-neck speed but I feel like the old man in the corner going, “Back in my day, the web was anonymous! You could go anywhere and do anything without fear of persecution - or at least embarrassment. It was private dammit!” I'm just tired of having my personal information sold and traded about without my permission. And, NO, telling me you're going to opt me in ahead of time doesn't count. Couldn't Facebook start us opted-out and convince (read: bribe) us to turn it on?
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