ESPN has rolled out the carpet to promote its coverage of the FiFA World Cup, which began over the weekend.
ESPN and ABC saw viewership up a reported 95% and 108% versus the first five games of the 2006 World Cup, with the Argentina-Nigeria match the most-watched game so far.
The USA-England game on Saturday was the fifth-most-viewed soccer telecast ever on ABC, averaging 8.4 million households and 12.9 million viewers. Good news for Hyundai Motor America, which is advertising heavily during ESPN and ABC broadcasts, and whose parent is Official Auto Partner of the games.
The automaker's soccer-centric ads, via Innocean Worldwide America, are in 287 ad slots during games, in halftime positions and on "Sports Center," "World Cup Prime" and "World Cup Live." Hyundai is also running print in ESPN Magazine and ads on ESPN.com, ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile and ESPNSoccernet.com. Marketing Daily kicks the ball around with Chris Perry, recently named VP of marketing.
Q: Soccer is obviously huge worldwide, but in the U.S.? Who is watching soccer here, and is that audience big enough to warrant a major ad push like this?
A: It won't pull numbers like the Super Bowl, but it will still do very well because of the passion people have for [soccer]. Also, ESPN and ABC and a lot of the advertisers are promoting the event a lot. And there is an awful lot of press. We think the passion people have for it will carry through to a commitment to watching all of the programming on ESPN, which means seeing our advertising.
Q: Because of the size of the U.S. Hispanic population and given the popularity among Latin Americans for this, are you doing anything in-language?
A: No, but soccer is becoming more popular in general among a younger crowd; and it's hugely popular for anybody who has lived outside of the U.S. because worldwide, soccer is the sport. And people are coming here from Mexico, from France, from Brazil, China, Korea ...
Q: And American-born kids start playing soccer at a young age through AYSO (American Youth Soccer) ...
A: I really think we are at the cusp. If you talk to the guys at ESPN, they put a lot of effort into promoting this because they see this as becoming the next big sporting event. We want to be part of that. The other thing is the synergy we will have with Hyundai's global sponsorship and the impact that will have.
I turned on ESPN today and I saw a team stepping out of a Hyundai-marked bus; there's Hyundai signage on the field. The fact that Hyundai is already invested in FiFA on a global scale has made it that much more appealing to us.
Q: Does Hyundai's North American marketing activity around FiFA mirror (in terms of creative and media) what Hyundai is doing in other global markets?
A: Actually, from an advertising perspective, we took a different stance on it. The three ads we developed for the campaign tie the passion and loyalty people have for their soccer team to the loyalty people have for Hyundai.
We knew we wanted to do specific creative that is more contextual to the event, but didn't know exactly what. When we got closer to that event we got [first place in Brand Keys' 2010 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index]; we thought this makes perfect sense to tie our loyalty numbers to peoples' loyalty to soccer.
Q: Is Hyundai, in each market worldwide, doing its own activation or is it integrated to the global message in most markets?
A: Some markets don't have the resources to do their own campaigns, so they will leverage what is produced by our parent company in Seoul.