World Cup Branding: What Can You Learn from the World Cup Campaigns?

Much like the Olympics, every four years the World Cup captures the attention of the globe—and global marketers. World Cup branding is a powerful way for businesses to elevate their brand profiles and strengthen brand visibility on a global scale.


But the branding techniques used by companies during World Cup fever don’t have to be confined to once every four years. Here are some branding lessons your business can take away from the latest World Cup marketing campaigns.


Take A Risk With Something Different

World Cup advertising sponsorships aren’t easy to come by—they’re highly limited, extremely costly, and competed for fiercely. Only a handful of big brands manage to score these coveted sponsorships. Non-sponsor companies, therefore, usually arrange for star-studded branded advertising that conveys support for the game and suggests affiliation.


 Nike Swoosh Logo

Image via


Nike, who wasn’t a sanctioned World Cup sponsor for 2014—though competitor Adidas was—managed to grab an early win by going against the trend. The company created a video, released right before the start of the tournament, that broke all the rules: it’s animated (though some of the characters are futbol celebrities), it never directly mentions the World Cup, and it’s a whopping five and a half minutes long—nearly twice the maximum length of three minutes that’s usually recommended for customer engagement.




The video, which is really a mini-film, uses subtle and strategic product placement throughout. The theme of the video’s story is “risk everything”—and it’s a risk that paid off significantly for Nike, who garnered over 65 million views and experienced more user engagement than its sponsored competitor, with less effort.


What can your business learn from “The Last Game”? When you take risks and deliver something unexpected, your brand benefits.


Be A Good Sport

When it comes to sporting events, especially global tournaments like the World Cup, passions can run high. Everyone will have their favorites, but not all of them can win. Brands in particular need to carefully monitor their support for one team over another, and be cautious when posting their sentiments in public spaces.


KLM Airlines learned the hard way with what happens when you offend your audience with your fan sentiments. The European company tweeted about Mexico’s defeat to the Holland team with a stereotyped picture of a mustached, sombrero-sporting figure next to a departure sign, captioned with the words “Adios Amigos!” The tweet went rapidly viral in a negative way, incurring backlash from the online community that included a profanity-laced attack from Hollywood A-List actor Gael Garcia Bernal tweeting his 2 million plus followers that he’ll never fly KLM again! Though KLM soon deleted the tweet, the damage had been done.


Gael Garcia Bernal Tweet


The takeaway here is to choose your brand alignment carefully, and be a good sport when it comes to wins and losses. Your brand sentiment should never offend your customers.



Link Your Offline and Online Campaigns Together

The most successful global brands present a consistent customer experience throughout all aspects and representations of their brands. One of the best ways to maintain consistency is to create links between various campaigns that will drive customer engagement on multiple channels.


During the World Cup, several brands strove for integration across channels, from television to social to mobile. Global auto manufacturer Hyundai created a particularly successful integrated World Cup campaign with television commercials that called on a popular internet meme and created a user-friendly Twitter hashtag to continue the theme online.



The video incorporates the “because something” meme that’s frequently used on social media and pop culture websites. While the subject is the Spanish team and their 2010 World Cup win, the advertisement is universal, with just one line of subtitled dialogue and the rest of the story told in actions and flashbacks. It’s funny and endearing, and the use of the #BecauseFutbol hashtag helped to engage audiences and increase Twitter activity for Hyundai.


The lesson here is that a consistent and integrated brand strategy across multiple channels can help your business succeed any time, not just during global sporting events.


What do you think?


• How can your brand capitalise on global events, even without official sponsorships?


• What are some unique ways you can present your brand, or unexpected twists you could deploy over typical marketing themes?


• How carefully are you monitoring your brand alliances to ensure you’re not offending your audience?


• What are you doing to tie your online and offline campaigns together?


• Do you create a consistent customer experience across all channels, on and offline, with your brand?


Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!


Brand Awareness or Audience Annoyance? Context is King!

One of the biggest brand marketing challenges for companies is to try and increase consumer recognition and recall of their brand.


The ability of a brand to capture the audiences’ attention, and quickly communicate its message is key to shaping the brand’s identity within its  target market.


We talked about reducing consumer confusion to ease the purchasing decision making process. A brand that has a strong identity makes it easy for a consumer to understand where the brand fits within its market, and why they should choose it over its competitors.



Don’t Confuse Your Audience, Help Them Choose: Why Context is Important

The ‘how’ and ‘where’ of communicating with your target audience should not just be dictated by maximum reach but by selecting what would best help the consumer develop a greater understanding of your brand identity.


In other words, the channels you choose should be congruent with your brands positioning strategy. A consumer who understands the brand’s identity is far more likely to recall the brand and recognize it during the decision making process.


Context is important for the brand and consumer alike. The choice of where to place your brand should help to convince your audience to choose your brand above competitors, not confuse them. Brand familiarity is key to strong sales, increased market share and growing brand profitability.


Jumping on the Live Brand Wagon

The explosion of product placement in film and television is a testament to the difficulty of grabbing audiences’ attention through traditional advertising. With multiple channels available to an audience, as well as the ability to record and skip over advertisements, big brands have started looking elsewhere to gain brand exposure to a captive audience.  Live broadcasts are the latest space being targeted in an effort to get the attention of a focused audience.


Inappropriate Exposure: Where Brands Go Wrong

Live broadcasts of sporting occasions or awards shows have typically been top of the highest TV viewing figure polls. The 2012 Superbowl attracted a staggering 111 million viewers. This year’s Oscars was viewed by 39.3 million people, and In Ireland over 2 million Irish fans tuned in to cheer on the boys in green in their clash against Spain during Euro 2012, that’s nearly half the population of the country!


While advertising around these types of events has always attracted huge brand buy-ins, a new trend is emerging which see’s brands targeting the live shows themselves. While live events offer the potential of huge exposure for brands, exposure without context begs the question are these brand attention seekers creating awareness or just annoyance?


The Tony Awards 2012

The biggest award night for the world of theatre took place last week in New York with the live broadcast of the show attracting a TV audience of over 6 million.


Not content with just a 30 second slot during the ad break, Royal Caribbean Cruise Liner also paid for a 4 minute infomercial during the ceremony, featuring singers and dancers from their cruise line entertainment, performing songs from the musical Hairspray, with explicit mentions of the brand by the award presenter.


Audiences of the show were certainly made aware of the brand, but this attempt of such an obvious sell in the middle of what is deemed a prestigious award ceremony might lead to more annoyance than awareness.


For a brand that is trying to attract an audience and strengthen brand identity, annoying audiences can lead to negative brand associations and ultimately do more harm than good.



AMA 2011

Even more bizarre than Royal Caribbean cruise’s Tony appearance, was the use of a FIAT 500 on stage at last year’s American Music Awards during Jennifer Lopez’s performance.


Although the singer was paid to endorse the brand, it’s lack of relevance in the setting of the AMA stage made the brand stand out but not necessarily for the right reasons.



Irish Brand’s Stunt Gets it Right with Relevancy at Euro 2012

It may have been cheeky but at least Irish brand Paddy Power picked a relevant event for their latest branding stunt that saw them send branded boxers to various players in Euro 2012.


The stunt paid off with millions around the world getting a glimpse of the brand when a Danish player lifted his shirt as part of his goal celebrations. While the player may be penalized for the stunt that infringed on the strict brand restrictions in place for Euro 2012, Paddy Power received valuable brand exposure with their target audience.



Use Relevant Channels to Help Your Audience Understand Your Brand

Integrating a brand into a live broadcast is not just about gaining brand exposure but should be treated as another congruent touch point in which you can reinforce the brand identity with your target audience. 


The ability for a consumer to recall a brand is influenced by all their interactions with that brand. The context in which the audience sees the brand helps them to understand the brand’s message, arming them with the information they need during a purchasing decision process.


For a company, this means that you should be looking to create a synergy within your brand marketing strategy where by each brand communication strengthens and reinforces the message of the others.


Remember, your brand is looking to convince, not confuse, and build strong relationships.  Strengthen your brand identity by picking the channel that best suits your brand and your audience. 


• Are you picking the communication channels most relevant to your audience?


• Where are you marketing your brand?


• Is this strengthening your brand identity or just causing confusion?


What do you think of the contexts of the brand placements mentioned?


Strategies to Successfully Penetrate Your Brand Into Irish Households

Early examples of branded goods “placement” in television shows, films and print date back nearly one hundred years so it’s clearly not a recent phenomenon. However Irish law has only permitted product placement since September 2011.


As a strategy for gaining your target audience’s attention is now arguably far more effective then traditional TV advertising breaks during and between programmes.


Consumers now have total control over what and when they view their content due to the mass market proliferation of digital video recorders. Viewers can fast forward and totally avoid watching your big budget TV advert at the click of a button. Unavoidably this consumer viewing change has had a significant impact on advertising success, not to mention loss of revenue for broadcasters.


Product placement has been used very successfully leveraged in American cinema and television, with brands achieving high profile visibility and targeted audience attention in a “captured environment” for many years now. Big brands have very successfully integrated product placement as a key part of their brand strategy with increasingly sophisticated visibility, which has both aligned their brand with the relevant celebrity, VIP or film/TV show genre.


Think closer to home with the huge success of the James Bond franchise where automobile companies such as Aston Martin and BMW may have invested substantial sums for their brands placement in the James Bond movies.


2006 Aston Martin Dbs James Bond Casino Royale Daniel Craig


Not only have they benefited from mass exposure to a targeted audience but their brands have become synonymous with one of the best known characters in film history. Their brand’s identity, and what it stands for, are now inextricably intertwined with those of the character of James Bond – suave, sophisticated, intelligent, worldly wise, a challenger and a thrill-seeker.


James Bond Bmw


It’s worth noting that BMW is now the world’s best selling luxury vehicle brand, outselling Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus.


While this is a much more overt example of product placement, equally it can be very subtle and understated too with the glimpse of a branded drinks can or bottle on a table, a billboard advertisement in the background of a scene, all of which are proven to have a subliminal impact on the viewer.


Film Billboard Ads


Brands in Ireland have been quick to take advantage of the new laws allowing product placement on national TV. Kraft Food’s Kenco coffee is now the “preferred” coffee of choice for presenters of TV3’s Morning Show and Midday, with branded mugs firmly in the hands of all on screen, albeit at an investment of €250,000 per year to Kraft Foods.


Kenco Tv3 


RTE have embraced product placement to the extent of writing it into the plot of Ireland’s most watched soap. Faircity’s Christie is now the proud owner of Carrickstown’s first Spar corner shop. This brand placement came complete with an official store-launch for the characters of Dublin’s famous fictional community! 


Spar Faircity


The product placement of the Spar brand in a show like Faircity is regarded as a winning strategy for all concerned. Spar get huge exposure beamed into the homes of their target audience multiple times a week, the audience see the brand in life like associations they can relate to in their own lives and referenced or indirectly endorsed by their favourite characters numerous times throughout each episode.


The producers and writers of the show benefit from a real-world authenticity that Spar’s involvement brings to their fictional town, and of course RTE are delighted with the revenue stream that the three-year €900,000 sponsorship and marketing investment by BWG bring to the broadcaster.


While the fees invested by Kraft and BWG may be far outside the range of smaller brands, the choice to place your brand on Irish television should be a real consideration as part of your brand strategy.


The subtle placement of products for much smaller fees can still create a large impression on your target audience with 42% of Irish television viewers claiming to “often notice products or brands that appear in TV programmes”. 


Campbells Soup Placement 


While still in its infancy on this side of the pond, the placement of brands on Irish television shows is still something of a talking point or novelty among Irish viewers. This suggests that there could be double impact for first-mover brands who integrate this form of advertising into their brand strategy. 


Apple House


It’s also worth noting too that it’s not always about the money. Apple topped the US charts for movie product placement in 2011. Unlike other brands however, Apple do not pay for product placement but rather provide the products themselves as a means of payment for displaying them in television shows, films, and print.


Ipad Modern Family


This form of product placement, a bartering of products or services for brand exposure, could offer huge opportunities to smaller or medium size companies looking to gain a larger national profile for their brand.


• Can your brand leverage the new possibilities offered by product placement in the Irish market?


• Does your brand’s identity and strategy align with that of existing Irish television shows and their target audiences?


• Does your brand have a positioning strategy in place?


What do you think of Coca-Cola’s cinematic product placement history shown in this infographic courtesy of “anyclip”?


 Coke Placement Infographic