No matter what your views are on football though the 2014 World Cup, which begins today if you haven’t noticed, is going to have a profound effect on how brands deliver their marketing strategies in the future.
It might sound a tad dramatic to suggest this, but if 2010 was the first World Cup to embrace social media, this one will be remembered (by marketers at least) as the World Cup where content marketing rose to the fore.
The brands who have paid millions to FIFA to be formally associated with the tournament will be pulling every marketing trick they know to squeeze as much engagement as possible from the billions of fans across the globe. Expect to see a huge amount of video, numerous microsites, Instagram takeovers and copious numbers of posts on social media platforms.
The branded newsroom gets tested to the limit
What is interesting is the way that some of the key brands, most notably Adidas and Budweiser, have created branded media rooms to respond to the events at the games creating platform specific content. So, for example, the boot maker has stated it will run stories that don't just ape what mainstream media is focusing on, but offer stats and content that no one else has.
Budweiser is partnering with Vice and Fox Sports and intends to fill its Facebook channel with exclusive video content, while Coke is moving from what it calls ‘creative excellence’ to ‘content excellence - the idea being that the content they create goes viral during the tournament.
Jennifer Anton, marketing manager at World Cup sponsor Budweiser UK, told Marketing Week: ‘There is a growing content management and connections team that helps assess the right touchpoints for the brand beyond beer conversations but going into lifestyle and affinity for sport and music. Facebook and Twitter are going to play a big role in how we activate around the World Cup. We’re going to be using all the insights we have learnt to connect with consumers around what we feel is going to be the biggest social media conversation ever.’
It isn't just brands that are associated with the World Cup via the official FIFA channel that are majoring on content As you would expect betting brands, most notably Paddy Power and Coral, have produced a slew of stunt, apps and sites that offer insights into the games, while Nike is meeting the challenge from Adidas head on with a massive content creation based around key players like Cristiano Ronaldo. For example the brand recently teamed up with Four Four Two to produce a fascinating branded guide to the competition which used innovative interactive long form content.
Originality is the key
Ultimately then the key for brands who are using the event to try to connect with fans using content is to be original and stand out. Producing an analogue of what mainstream media is offering will get the brand nowhere.
Jon Davie managing director at Zone told The Drum ‘Football fans will be bombarded with information for the next six weeks. If your content calendar calls for Facebook posts wishing ‘Roy and the boys good luck’ on the morning of England’s match days, the chances are you’re not alone. And the chances of your post cutting through the clutter are about as good as England’s chances of lifting the trophy.’
Or in a more positive way as Joe Weston, account director for Adidas at We are Social says: ‘The rules of sports marketing have changed and by going into the real-time space brands are competing against broadcasters. The challenge is creating a programme of compelling content that’s going to convince viewers to visit your page for insight into the World Cup and Brazil rather than stick with the BBC.’
The next few weeks will be fascinating for marketers. The concept of the branded newsroom with content created in real time is going to be tested to the limit. It will be intriguing to see which brands succeed in their approach and which brands score an own goal and why.