Football is an inexplicable passion in Argentina, and a part of its national identity. Not surprisingly, the FIFA World Cup is a major event that shakes the country every four years, capturing everyone’s attention.
The interest around the tournament was even higher this time, due to our traditional rivalry with Brazil and the geographical proximity that made it easier and cheaper to attend the matches. Consequently, the event became the focus of the marketing efforts for a lot of companies.
Many campaigns and promotions started well before the beginning of the tournament, and the peak of advertising investment came just before the first kick-off. The outstanding performance of the Argentinian national team expanded the communications and the popular excitement to the final match. During June and July, Argentina had serious World Cup fever: football was the main topic of conversation, newspapers, magazines and TV shows were bombarding the audience with game images, tactical analysis and even gossip about the lives of the footballers.
All types of brands from several categories tried to take advantage of the event, putting different strategies into practice. In June, 1 out of 5 TV ads were directly related to the World Cup and many more featured more implicit links to the event, according to Mindshare. The TV screen was a sea of white and light blue (the team colors), and the battle for standout was fierce.
What did we do?
In order to analyze the impact of branded activity during the event and identify the winning strategies, Millward Brown carried out an online survey among 2,000 respondents during the first week of the World Cup. According to this study, Coca-Cola, Adidas and Quilmes (local established brand leader in the beer market) were the most strongly associated with it. All of them have a strong relationship with local football and have consistently supported the National Association (AFA) for decades. Other big global brands also put in a good performance as a result of supporting either the event (as FIFA official sponsors, like McDonald’s and Visa) or teams and football players (Nike, sponsoring Brazilian and English national team and stars like Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar Jr).
It was difficult for non-official sponsors to achieve standout, but there were great exceptions: Taraguí, a local brand of yerba mate infusion, aired a simple but impactful TV campaign with limited budget, displaying different situations where the product was a companion for the football players, with a predominant role for the brand. As a result, the campaign achieved one of the highest scores of brand linkage, while the majority of campaigns related to the World Cup showed a disappointing performance in this metric either because of an unclear role for the brand or a poor integration with the story (9 out of 14 commercials included in our survey were significantly below the country average).
What did we learn?
No matter what the level of investment or the strategy chosen, the key factors for success were:
- An involving creative concept, tapping into emotions.
- A correct implementation strategy across all the touchpoints.
- A prominent role for the brand.
Those brands that differentiated from their competitors were clearly more noticeable, and the ones that tapped into consumer’s feelings and motivations managed to develop enjoyable and memorable communications. In contrast, the brands that fell into the commonplace and stereotyped failed to convey a compelling message.
Getting noticed in a saturated context is a major challenge, but it is easier for well-established brands that have been supporting the events for many years. Newcomers will have to work harder in order to build stronger credentials: The World Cup has many players, but only a few winners!