There are few global events that captivate on the level of the FIFA World Cup, with the latest set to commence in Russia on the 14th of June. So, what’s changed since 2014’s FIFA World Cup in terms of the global sporting, technology, and media landscapes since the last event back in 2014 (hint: it’s a lot!).
In terms of technology, global smartphone penetration has increased dramatically since 2014, up from 21.6% to nearly 35% during 2018, according to Statista. This 14% increase has directly impacted the media landscape, with consumers in countries such as Mexico, Indonesia and India seeing 4x more people using exclusively mobile devices to access the web, while here in the US, 70% of all digital minutes consumed in December 2017 were on mobile devices. The implication for brands is significant, with the opportunity to reach more connected consumers than ever, at a scale that is rivaled perhaps only by the Olympic Games or the Super Bowl.
In terms of technology, global smartphone penetration has increased dramatically since 2014, up from 21.6% to nearly 35% during 2018, according to Statista.
What hasn’t changed are the powerful emotions that these games can evoke, and the sense of global comradery that develops during a hard-fought match between two countries. The question for marketers becomes “How can we capture some of that emotion and generate similar excitement about our brands?” Turn to contextual data to examine some key interests that soccer fans and World Cup enthusiasts have around the games, some of their media consumption habits, and even some favorite brands they follow.
What are invested brands doing?
Favorite brands like Mars Inc. brand M&M’s, generates heavy interest with FIFA World Cup fans, likely due to their legacy of sponsorship (they memorably created M&M’s to match the colors of the Brazilian flag during the 2014 World Cup). World Cup sponsor McDonald’s generates the highest interest of any QSR by FIFA World Cup fans, just ahead of Starbucks, another fan favorite global brand, and Taco Bell, a favorite amongst US Millennials. Another World Cup sponsor, Coca-Cola, is the soft drink of choice for World Cup fans, as they show 5x higher interest in the brand than the internet average. Finally, the apparel brand of choice for our World Cup fan is Nike, ranking ahead of long time World Cup sponsor Adidas.
How can these brands capitalize on the anticipation buildup before the competition?
We noted that the greatest excitement often occurs prior to the game kicking off. Search for the Super Bowl reveals that user anticipation for the commercials was highest between two weeks leading up to the event and the day after, quickly fading thereafter. As for technology, streaming media is of high interest amongst the World Cup fans, as they look to tune in via streaming video channels on whichever device they have handy at the time. Leveraging cross device video to engage audiences on each of their screens has proven to generate high impact and drive performance for advertisers, particularly when employing memorable creative messaging and immersive user experiences within the unit (our research also shows better brand favorability scores when a user can opt-in vs. being served a forced viewing experience).
With the US out of the World Cup, what can brands do?
Despite the US team not making the cut for the World Cup, US based marketers can take a page out of the Olympic playbook and consider a more global approach, even if your product or service is based in the States. For example, our US based World Cup fans show decidedly European preference when it comes to their sports and teams, with heavy interest in Six Nations Rugby (England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland & Wales), English Premier League clubs such as Leicester City, Arsenal and Southampton, and the German Bundesliga football league. Given the passion FIFA fans have for European leagues and international stars, consider marketing campaigns that celebrate acts of sportsmanship and international comradery no matter where the game is played or who is playing it.
World Cup fans also show high interest in the US based Major League Soccer, so the World Cup could create an even larger “halo effect” around the entire sport of soccer that would elevate the visibility of more regionally based leagues such as the MLS. US based brands would be well positioned to take advantage of this by aligning marketing efforts around these regional leagues and their respective clubs, keeping in mind the anticipated peak FIFA activity from mid-June to mid-July.
No matter where in the world your brand is located, sporting events such as the World Cup are one of the few opportunities where the global community comes together to celebrate a shared passion. Marketers can join the party by adding their own perspectives on how their products and services enhance the lives of World Cup fans, just remember to do so on their terms and device of choice!