If you’re a Panamanian or a Peruvian, this year’s World Cup will prove to be an exceptionally exciting one. Not only is it the first time in the history of the competition that Panama has qualified, it’s also Peru’s first time back in 36 years, which should have fans glued to their television screens and mobile phones in anticipation.
Soccer (or football, depending on your point of origin) is the world’s most popular sport, but despite this, U.S. sports fans have been slow to catch on. Most of the time, this isn’t a problem — but then the World Cup rolls around, and brands have to find a way to appeal to the millions of people who decide to tune in to watch their national team play.
This year, brands have an added challenge to surmount: the fact that the United States did not qualify. But far from being a setback, this actually presents an opportunity to tap into an already-engaged fanbase: U.S. Hispanics.
In a recent survey of both Hispanics and non-Hispanics, while 75% of non-Hispanics said they were somewhat likely or very likely to watch the World Cup, a whopping 90% of Hispanics said they were likely or very likely to do so, which makes the World Cup an excellent opportunity for brands to raise their cultural cachet amongst the Hispanic community.
The study also noted that Hispanics “show significantly more excitement about the World Cup than their non-Hispanic peers,” an excitement that is linked to the connection that many Hispanics feel to the places that their families hail from, and which is likely to spur increased spending. And indeed, family is an important element of soccer viewing, with Hispanic soccer fans much more likely to agree with the statement that “someone in [their] family has always been a fan” of the sport, and more than one-third saying that they were introduced to the sport as children.
For Hispanics, then, World Cup viewing is more than watching a soccer game on television. It’s an opportunity to connect with family, both in their countries of origin as well as the next generation of Hispanics. As a result, Hispanic fans are much more likely to be plugged into any World Cup-adjacent content, be it the matches themselves or any related commentary — this despite the fact that this year’s location means that matches will air for the most part in the early morning or during normal work hours.
One example of a brand that has recognized the importance that soccer holds to the Hispanic community and used it to create an engaging, entertaining ad is Sprint. An ad for Fútbol Mode outlines a few fun ways for viewers to see as much World Cup content as possible, from blocking match time on their calendar to preventing meetings from being scheduled to an excuse maker to get out of existing commitments to receiving exclusive access to Telemundo content (for Sprint users only). Given that 46% of Hispanic soccer fans say that they will stream the matches live instead of watching them on television, Sprint’s push to capture the Hispanic audience makes sense.
The World Cup creates a great opportunity for other big brands (big box retailers, big beverages, big liquor, big auto), and allows them to create scale in advertising initiatives. Even though key sponsorships with major brands such as Adidas, Coca Cola, Visa, and McDonald’s have already been planned, there are plenty of other opportunities. Digital is a really important opportunity. If you look at the Hispanic audience, it’s mobile-first, and over-index in consuming video digitally. This creates an opportunity at all levels of brand spend to combine content and digital ad together.