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Eyes on the prize

Released at: 04:50, 08/10/2014

Eyes on the prize

Who will win the tag of "best marketing team" at the football World Cup?

by Huyen Thanh

The World Cup is always too big an opportunity for brands to miss and the 2014 edition in Brazil is no exception. Just as teams dream of lifting the Cup in triumph on July 13, winning the marketing contest is also the dream of the marketing teams of brands big and small. With hundred of millions of eyes focused on the tournament, brands are keen to make sure they get some of the attention as well. It doesn’t come cheap, but if done right the boost to sales can be phenomenal.

Coca-Cola has been an official sponsor of the World Cup since 1978, having had a long-standing relationship with FIFA since 1974. This year it will spend $4 billion on global marketing, going all out to publicise its ties with the largest sporting event on the globe. The Wall St. Cheat Sheet, a financial news website, wrote that Coke is cutting costs through 2014 by $400 million and is pumping the savings into its global advertising, with the largest slice surrounding the World Cup. The company claims its marketing programme around the event is the largest in its history, and is underpinning the content drive with its first global real-time marketing activity.

“The brand wants to celebrate real people playing football, demonstrating how the game is a force for a more inclusive and connected world,” said Mr Joseph Tripodi, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer at Coca-Cola. The company’s increases in global volumes for the first quarter of this year have been attributed to growth in emerging markets, due to strong investment in marketing campaigns and in the FIFA World Cup. Meanwhile, its revenue actually fell two per cent in 2013, mainly in developed markets. With emerging-market growth slowing as consumers struggle to find work and earn incomes, the tournament takes on even more importance for Coke.

In Vietnam, though TV advertising during the World Cup is the most expensive it’s ever been, there is still competition among brands and foreign brands, in particular in the fast-moving consumer goods segment. Vietnam Television (VTV), which holds the broadcast rights, has announced advertising prices at different times in different matches, with the highest being up to VND350 million ($16,279) for a 30-second slot during the Final. Despite overnight kick-off times in Vietnam, Oppo, a Taiwan-based mobile phone brand, has spent millions of dollars on TV ads, while a few local brands such as MobiFone and Sabeco also paid huge amounts of money to advertise during the Round of 16.

Insiders say that it’s mostly men who will watch the World Cup and they are the target customers of brands in high technology, electronic appliances and fast-moving consumer goods. So it makes sense for these brands to put a lot of emphasis on, and a lot of money in, advertising. Competition among multi-national giants like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nike and Adidas is such that they all plan to not only spend their advertising budget on TV ads but also to be active in social media. This World Cup has the potential to be the most talked about event in social media history. As such, social media allows brands to reach a much wider audience and tell more stories than a 30 or 60-second TV slot. It’s no surprise that TV and social media strategies are tied to the marketing campaigns of the major brands during the tournament, though the exact mix remains unknown.

At some point in the future these brands will know whether their marketing campaigns have been successful. The World Cup provides the means to generate loyalty and sales, and major brands and smaller brands have left no stone unturned in trying to be among the winners.

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