While not a big deal in the U.S., the FIFA World Cup is huge just about everywhere else. ICOM, a network of independent ad agencies, reports that World Cup-related ads will account for around half of overall page space and ad time in several Western and emerging countries. The World Cup is beginning to rival the Olympics as a marketing vehicle, with over 32 billion viewers expected and corporate sponsorships exceeding a billion dollars. Major brands debuting Cup-related ads include Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald's and MasterCard.
How are the search engines exploiting the demand for information about the event? Google has unveiled a World Cup version of its logo, as well as a special World Cup module that can be added to a users web page that tracks scores and standings. Yahoo has a World Cup shortcut, and Ask has a Smart Answer service that shows flags for each team in the hunt for the Cup. MSN's home page points to a guide to the Cup done in association with Fox Sports. It should be no surprise that Yahoo and Google are the top sites referring traffic to the official FIFA World Cup site, with Yahoo delivering 17 percent of all traffic and Google 13 percent.
Marketers can exploit this traffic by buying World Cup-related search words. Besides the event itself, searches have spiked on such stars as Ronaldinho, Steven Gerrard, Peter Crouch (known for his robot dance) and David Beckham. Even in the soccer-apathetic U.S., there was a surge of searches on Mia Hamm.
In particular, those targeting the Hispanic market would do well to recognize the power of the World Cup. While the U.S. overall ignores the Cup, the Hispanic segment is avidly interested. There are six Latin American teams in the tournament this year (Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay, Costa Rica and Mexico) to appeal to the huge fan base among the 42 million Hispanics in the U.S. Of course, if you plan to appeal to the fans of the World Cup, you might want to remember that to the rest of the world it's called "futbol," not soccer.
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