Scoring Big with World Cup Digital Marketing

During Monday’s World Cup match between the Netherlands and Denmark, 36 spectators were removed from the stadium. They weren’t cursing at the referees. They weren’t causing fights. Their crime was wearing orange dresses. The group huddled in the front row of the stadium and the sea of orange grabbed the attention of several cameras during the game. But these weren’t just ordinary dresses. They were supplied by the Dutch brewery, Bavaria, which means they were in direct offense of Fifa’s marketing regulations.

According to the Fifa Rights Protection document, “The FIFA World Cup not only attracts fans and official partners, but also the ambush marketing activities of companies seeking to secure themselves a slice of the rewards illicitly without offering any financial support in return. . . In the last decade, shrewd advertising strategies have been developed with more and more ways of bypassing the main sponsors by distributing free materials bearing bold, eye-catching company logos or similar insignia to the fans attending sporting events so as to use them as human billboards.” And these tactics are strictly forbidden in the stadium.

However, dozens of companies from around the world are capitalizing on the World Cup and using it as a launch pad to reinvigorate corporate identities, attract new consumers and demonstrate a brand’s personality. While in-stadium “ambush marketing” tactics may be a no-no, there is a loophole – online!

Budweiser, for example, launched an extensive digital campaign around the World Cup. The “Bud United” YouTube channel includes a “Big Brother” meets “The Real World” reality webisode series depicting “32 fans from 32 countries all living under one roof in South Africa during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.” Fans can support their favorite teams, influence cast members’ activities, and discuss the games. To date, the channel has over 1.3 million views. The supporting Facebook page, which has over 800,000 fans, offers additional interactive features such as a voting mechanism for “Man of the Game” and a “Paint Your Face” widget so your profile picture reflects the team you support.

I understand that soccer – or football – is a sport that is taken seriously all around the world. And I can understand the desire Fifa has in maintaining the sanctity of the World Cup. However, the real lesson here is for Bavaria – while the orange dress brigade did succeed in getting some media coverage, they would have been better off creating a less intrusive, more engaging online experience for consumers. You tie that to an electric event like the World Cup and you’re guaranteed a win.

*Thanks to Nicole Puhl for the idea behind this post!

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5 Comments

Filed under Branding, Facebook, Internet, Video, YouTube

5 responses to “Scoring Big with World Cup Digital Marketing

  1. Anheuser-Busch isn’t using a “loophole”… they’re one of the major sponsors of the event. It’s probable that if Bavaria launched a web campaign featuring “32 fans from 32 countries all living under one roof in South Africa during the 2010 Fifa World Cup”, they’d be hearing from FIFA (and Anheuser-Busch InBev) lawyers regarding their “unauthorized use of the FIFA 2010 World Cup trademark”.

    Kicking fans out of a sporting event for wearing unbranded clothing in the color associated with their nation is a total absurdity. I’m not sure it rises to Pete Brown’s claims of a “human rights abuse”, but it’s certainly ridiculous.

    • laurenbegley

      Good points, Seamus. But sponsorship or not, AB took a much smarter marketing route than Bavaria by creating a forum for fans to interact. You are right in saying that Budweiser had a the advantage of being able to use the World Cup trophy on its YouTube channel. However, the online experience they provide offers far more depth and value than the obvious and slightly trashy stunt Bavaria pulled.

      • gunaxin

        Compare the amount of money spent by Bavaria versus the amount of money spent by Budweiser, and we can start to realize who was smarter with their marketing dollars. This campaign by Bavaria has been very effective at getting tons of free publicity, and it was brilliant. I think you fail to realize that a “trashy stunt” featuring hot girls at a soccer match is pretty damn effective at reaching their target market.

      • laurenbegley

        I think you are missing the point, Gunaxin. Comparing Budweiser to Bavaria wasn’t to show the benefits of spending a lot of money or buying a huge sponsorship. The thing AB did well was create a sense of community; a destination online where die-hard soccer fans or those just tuning in for the World Cup could interact with one another within a Budweiser-branded space. Sure Bavaria spent next to nothing, but whatever awareness that was gained will be fleeting.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Scoring Big with World Cup Digital Marketing « Pop Culture 2 Point 0 -- Topsy.com

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