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Reaching a global audience through the power of sport

Posted by: Yusuf Bhana, TranslateMedia

Sport is a common language that has universal appeal, no matter where you are in the world. It evokes a wide range of emotions – through victory and defeat – that bring people together and get them communicating. 

Football, for example, is watched by billions of people from all four corners of the globe, dominating the landscapes of Europe, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.

Sport therefore has the power to help brands reach a huge global audience through advertising, social media and content marketing.

But what is the world’s most popular sport?

Here are some of the most popular sports in certain countries (ranked first to third).

  • United States (American football, baseball, basketball)

  • United Kingdom (football, cricket, rugby)

  • India (cricket, football, field hockey)

  • Australia (Australian football, rugby, cricket)

  • South Africa (football, cricket, rugby)

  • Brazil (football, volleyball, swimming)

Sport has never been so accessible to the masses than it is today. Greater coverage and increased access to television makes watching sport easier than ever before, even if you find yourself in the more remote parts of the planet.

A peak audience of 20.5 million viewers watched the recent FIFA World Cup final in Brazil on television in the UK – 16.7 million on the BBC and 3.8 million on ITV – while hundreds of millions more tuned in from the rest of the world.

The Tour de France, on the other hand, reportedly pulled in 4 billion global viewers during the course of the three-week event, plus the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth  Games in Glasgow attracted a peak audience of 9.4 million viewers in the UK alone.

Jamaica’s victory in the men’s 100m relay final drew the biggest audience of the games on the BBC – 8.4 million viewers.

Embracing digital media

Brands can use the power of sport to their advantage by harnessing the power of social media. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook, for instance, are awash with conversation during matches. Fans from around the world relive goals, discuss wickets and debate tries as the action unfolds before them.

A whopping 672 million tweets were sent during the 32-day World Cup in Brazil, making it the biggest event in the history of Twitter.

Germany’s 7-1 demolition of Brazil sparked 35.6 million tweets, while the final between Germany and Argentina spawned 32.1 million tweets. The latter generated more than 618,000 tweets per minute, compared to 580,000 tweets per minute when Germany scored goal number five against Brazil.

On Facebook, meanwhile, over 280 million posts, comments and likes were sent during the final of the tournament, surpassing its previous record of 245 million interactions set by the Super Bowl in 2013.

During the second round alone, where the winners and runners-up of the groups compete against each other, there were a billion World Cup-related posts. This was the first time ever that an event – sporting or otherwise – had reached a billion communications.

But it’s not just football that gets people talking.

The 2012 Olympics in London generated in excess of 150 million tweets on Twitter.

Usain Bolt’s victory in the 200m sprint final was the biggest moment of the 16-day competition, with more than 80,000 tweets per minute, followed by his win in the 100m sprint final, with over 74,000 tweets per minute. Facebook, meanwhile, saw more than 116 million posts and comments relating to the games.

Don’t get lost in translation

Translation is critical when it comes to international sports marketing campaigns.

A brand that caters to more languages will ultimately reach a bigger audience, but simply translating the content into multiple languages is often not enough.

An understanding of the nuances of the local culture and language is required to produce effective copy and select appropriate imagery in order to elicit the desired response. Translation errors can result in failed campaigns that leave brands red-faced and out of pocket. 

Localised sponsorship deals growing in popularity

Recent figures from social analyst PeerIndex highlight the benefits of brands associating themselves with sports.

It looked at community of 250,000 football fans around the world to see what brands are most likely to be mentioned on Twitter.

Here are the top 3 findings.

  1. Fans are 140 times more likely to mention Capital One (sponsor of the Football League Cup) than the average user, and 120 times more likely to mention insurer Allianz, which backs Ireland’s National Football League.

  2. Sky and Barclays achieve a relevance score of 110, with Spanish insurer BBVA – sponsor of Spain’s Liga – following at 79.

  3. Aviva is 54 times more likely to be mentioned on Twitter by football fans compared to the average user, owing to its sponsorship of Norwich City and its naming rights for Ireland’s national stadium.

A number of big football clubs, including a handful in England, are actively seeking deals with local companies in their target markets in a bid to complement big-ticket deals they have with major brands.

The strategy works by them offering their logos in the hopes of uncovering alternatives to the traditional match day, broadcasting, licensing and retail revenues.

Manchester United, for example, signed ten regional partners during the 2013/14 season, including a deal with telecommunications company Airtel Africa spanning several countries including Nigeria and Kenya.

Chelsea signed 13 deals, while Arsenal made eight and Manchester City made six.

Barcelona struck 11 deals, including a five-year deal with the Heineken-owned Mexican beer Tecate, in an attempt to keep pace with other elite clubs around the world.

Sport’s appeal means it’s a perfect sphere for marketers. And a combination of digital tools, including social media and content marketing, mean it’s easier than ever to reach a global audience and engage with them effectively.

Yusuf Bhana is Digital Marketing Manager at TranslateMedia

Posted in CMA blog
28thAug 2014


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