Germany’s spectacular win over Argentina on July 13 was a clear representation of the talent, heart and excitement that characterized the 2014 edition of the FIFA World Cup. Off the field, there were also moments of brilliance by sponsors who were implementing their World Cup activations throughout the tournament. Although FIFA partners aren’t competing with one another since they benefit from a category exclusivity clause when they sign with the world’s largest single sport organization, we wouldn’t be talking about sport without a little competition factor; let’s see which official worldwide partner had the strongest performance at the World Cup this year.
Here comes the official non-official UOSBC World Cup Sponsorship Activation Award!
Earning the privilege to lift the prestigious World Cup Trophy requires a combination of ingenious tactics, world class resources, passion, determination and often times a little bit of luck. That’s all part of the excitement after all. This is true not only for the national teams competing, but for sponsors and anyone activating around the World Cup.
FIFA partners Coca-Cola, Adidas, Visa, Kia Hyundai, Emirates, and Sony each conducted innovative worldwide activation campaigns surrounding the World Cup.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour was an enormous piece of Coca-Cola’s “The World’s Cup” campaign. The beverage company’s largest ever marketing campaign was centered on the power of inclusion of soccer around the globe, which was communicated through a series of films called “Everyone’s Invited”, which documented authentic stories shot during the tour. Additional platforms contributing to the international delivery of happiness were the launch of promotional World Cup mini bottles that integrated a customizable digital message, as well as the Coca-Cola music anthem called “The World is Ours”, which was translated in 22 languages.
As the official Sports Equipment Supplier, Adidas’ 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign called “All In or Nothing” integrated multiple components. An extensive social media activation consisted the heart of Adidas’ worldwide strategy. Following with its tradition of providing the official match ball with a name, the personality given to Brazuca was brought to a new level at Brazil 2014. The ball had an official Twitter account of its own, which provided a unique insider’s perspective to over 3,4 million followers around the world.
The cutting edge technology developed by Adidas was modeled and put to the test during the tournament by nine national teams as well as many of the top performing athletes. The 2014 World Cup final was the stage for a famous all-Adidas game, with Germany and Argentina both sporting the three stripes. The Golden Glove for best goalkeeper, Golden Boot for most goals scored and Golden Ball for most outstanding player were all awarded to Adidas endorsed athletes, further positioning the brand as the leader in soccer apparel.
Similarly to Coca-Cola, the German company was “all in” with the 2014 FIFA World Cup, also implementing its most important marketing campaign in its soccer history. Adidas’ performance on and off the field was watched closely by many, as it was undergoing a tight duel against the great Nike.
In the Financial Services Category, VISA’s sponsorship activation strategy also included a strong digital and social media presence. One of the main activation platforms was a microsite with promotions to engage with soccer fans around the world. The Visa FIFA World Cup Backstage Experiences program offered an exclusive behind the scene perspective of the facilities to lucky VISA customers, and indirectly to fans in general thanks to a video series.
Interestingly, athlete endorsements that were leveraged in TV ads and promotions were those of sprinter Usain Bolt and retired soccer players Zenadine Zidane and Paolo Rossi. Unlike Adidas’ long list of endorsed athletes who consist of current generation star soccer players, the choice of athletes from VISA appears to be more relevant for an older demographic.
The automotive category was shared by Kia and Hyundai, who conducted separate campaigns, with the latter being of greater amplitude.
A World Cup dedicated microsite hosting multiple promotions, brand ambassador profiles and digital engagement opportunities was created by Hyundai and visited by 7.5 million people. One of their main activation programs was the Hyundai Pin My Park, which designed and hosted major viewing parties in five countries. Millions of fans gathered in Berlin, Madrid, Torino, Sydney, and Sarajevo enjoy the broadcast and live entertainment. Fans in other parts of the world were also able to share the World Cup fever virtually with a Pinterest application to create their own Fan Park.
At tournament sites, Hyundai’s presence was noticeable with the thousand vehicle fleet that was provided for the event, as well as visible “Meeting Points” as a crowd management feature. Overall Hyundai’s World Cup campaign was essentially social, providing an array of virtual and physical opportunities to celebrate the World Cup fever across continents. On the other hand, Kia’s sponsorship activation was less extensive, consisting mainly of promotions and TV ads.
In comparison to all other FIFA Partners, the Global Tour Operator Emirates had a much less noticeable World Cup campaign. Promotions and other marketing initiatives activating the sponsorship were minimally visible in the North American market.
Consistent with the current digital activation trends, there was much to expect from FIFA’s official Digital Life sponsor SONY. The company’s campaign consisted mainly of digital opportunities to bring fans together as well as interesting international development pieces.
A major activation platform designed by the Japanese electronics and entertainment giant was a mobile-oriented microsite called “One Stadium”, which combined the social media activity of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to make World Cup content as available to users as possible and to unite fans from over the world. Additional programs included fan challenges, a media skills training program for the youth of developing countries, as well as public viewings in Cote d’Ivoire, each leveraging the latest technology developed by SONY.
One common theme that was persistent among all six FIFA Partners over their World Cup activation campaigns was the innovative digital engagement opportunities to unite fans from around the world. Beyond its brilliantly well executed social and digital strategy, Adidas also managed to have a very successful on-site presence that was made possible through strategic player and team partnerships. In a very heated duel of sport apparel brands, Adidas came out victorious over Nike who was kicked out of the World Cup final. The German company therefore deserves some recognition with the UOSBC World Cup Sponsorship Activation Award, and joins the national soccer team as World Cup champion!