Consumers Embrace World Cup Online -- Marketers, Not So Much

I know, dear reader, you are thinking: "Really, another World Cup-related post? We get it, you don’t like the way marketers have treated their World Cup association game and you don’t like sponsor recognition research. Besides, Team USA is out, so what do we care if The Netherlands is still in?”

All this is true. And I have found it interesting that from the minute Team USA left the tournament, the U.S. marketing nation switched effortlessly to red-white-and-blue-stars-and-stripes-fireworks Independence Day sales advertising. You can tell the national pulse of this great nation by the advertising themes of car commercials -- and Sleepy’s!

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is, to date, the most-streamed event ever. Obviously, the fact that technology today is a lot more “stream-friendly” than during World Cup 2010 helps a lot, with a far larger global audience living online with access to higher speeds and better devices. But we should also recognize that this high online streaming rate is not just a matter of better technology, but reflects a need that is being met.



Social media is onboard as well, with 91% of the global audience stating they use an additional screen while watching. And despite Twitter’s best efforts of trying to be the go-to TV or even World Cup social media companion, it is Facebook that’s winning the World Cup. According to research firm GlobalWebIndex, a whopping 94% of people with social media access in Brazil, the U.K. and the USA use Facebook, followed by Twitter at 60%. All other social networks, like Snapchat, Whatsapp, Google Plus and Instagram, get around 20% or less. The only other stat that jumps out is that in Brazil, Whatsapp reaches almost 60%, slightly more than Twitter in that country.

And how have marketers capitalized on this massive online/mobile opportunity? “Mostly absent” seems to be the strategy of choice. None of the now-typical Super Bowl tactics are on display in World Cup TV marketing efforts. A few brave marketers tried to ride the wave of popular social media memes around Luis Suarez’ bite, Tim Howard’s heroics and Robin van Persie’s diving header. Still, it seems your average Photoshop-using consumer, team, national football association and even FIFA itself have captured the online/mobile potential for sharing, storytelling and creativity far better than marketers. Where are the truly imaginative and inclusive online marketing efforts?

U.K. agency WayToBlue has measured the impact of official and wannabe World Cup advertisers in terms of overall buzz. In week one the Top 5 “buzziest” brands were Nike, adidas, ESPN, Coca-Cola and Sony. So no real surprises there, and in week one we hadn’t yet seen the impact of how the matches unfolded, as teams and players began dropping out of the competition, taking down many of marketing’s big bets (Suarez, Ronaldo, Team USA, Neymar).

Personally, I can’t wait for programmatic TV to happen at scale, with its promise of only showing advertising that is relevant to me. I’m so glad that this is already a reality today online  -- oh wait, not true. Every YouTube World Cup video I have seen in the past week started with a “How To Tame Your Dragon 2” commercial, which could not be skipped after five seconds. We clearly haven’t learned a thing yet.

1 comment about "Consumers Embrace World Cup Online -- Marketers, Not So Much".
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  1. Dan Greenberg from Impossible Software, GmbH, July 7, 2014 at 2:23 p.m.

    Why "photoshop-using" when VISA will put you into FIFA video clips for free?
    [Disclosure: We are involved in this project.]

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