For rabid fans across the globe, the FIFA World Cup is the Super Bowl of international soccer. The month-long competition takes place every four years. It’s a chance to see the world’s best players compete, connect with fellow “football” enthusiasts and celebrate the sport at large. For brands, the event opens the gates to authentic fan engagement. World Cup 2018, June 14 to July 15 in Russia, is no exception. From watch parties back in the States to interactive experiences on-site, brands go big and bold to engage soccer fanatics. Here’s a taste of the action.
Ever the overachiever, Coke activates the fourth iteration of its FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour in September of 2017. Armed with its branded jet, the brand transports the 18 carat gold statue to 51 countries and 65 cities across six continents, including 25 new markets, ahead of the main event.
Along the way, the soft drink giant underscores its #ReadyFor campaign theme with a variety of live experiences. Like myriad photo ops that result in 300,000 plus images of fans with the trophy. Or the Coca-Cola Share Chair, an oversized chair that dispenses personalized mini cans of Coca-Cola and Coke Zero Sugar from its armrests when two people sit together. Additional engagements include Share a Coke cubes that house Instagram-worthy photo moments, programs for special needs athletes, live performances, a chance to meet the FIFA World Cup mascot, and appearances from 34 soccer legends.
From branded hotels to double-decker boats, Budweiser branding is everywhere during this year’s FIFA World Cup. The brewer offers a variety of experiences including the Bud Club in Moscow, which features performances by the likes of Diplo, Ludacris and Zedd. Then there’s the Bud Hotel, a takeover of Moscow’s InterContinental Hotel for the duration of the tournament. Touchpoints include Chef Diego Bulk’s bar and restaurant, a studio space for content creators and a spa venue plays host to special events and after-parties.
Moving from land to water, the brand also activates the Bud Boat, a branded double-decker that’s sure to get attention floating down the Moskva River (and earlier in the campaign, down London’s Thames River). The experience features a barcuzzi (Jacuzzi-meets-bar), bites, entertainment, viewing screens, and special events.
The official automotive partner of the FIFA World Cup 2018, Hyundai kicks off its sponsorship early with the “Be There with Hyundai” slogan campaign. From December 2017 to February 2018, the automaker encourages soccer buffs to submit slogans for the 32 national teams competing in the tournament, and to choose their favorite slogans on an interactive microsite. The winning slogans are part of the customization of each team bus. In addition, winning fans earn a seat on Hyundai’s official convoy vehicle and a chance to watch their team compete live in a World Cup match.
Additionally, the brand transports the FIFA World Football Museum from its home in Zurich, Switzerland, to the Hyundai Motorstudio in Moscow. Consumers get an overview of World Cup history from the fan’s perspective as well as an opportunity to see the world’s first display of the 64 adidas Telstar official match balls used for the kick-off of each World Cup competition.
Dalian Wanda Group
Dalian Wanda Group, the only Chinese first-tier 2018 World Cup sponsor, activates a heartwarming campaign that inspires the next generation of Chinese soccer players. The brand brings 384 kids [200 from China] between the ages of 12 and 17 to Russia. The lucky fans serve as flag bearers and carry FIFA flags onto the pitch before each match. According to the brand, the experience is a way of helping soccer develop “from within.”
“One of the primary reasons for us to sign the partnership with FIFA was to inspire the next generation of Chinese soccer players,” says Yang Hengming, president of Wanda Sports Group. “We took the children to the soccer pitch, inspiring the adolescents, as well as enriching the experience for soccer players and fans. These values we gained are hard to quantify.”
Among its array of World Cup activations, adidas builds a “Creator Base” in London designed to engage young soccer fans. Leveraging the brand’s “Creativity is the answer” messaging, the experience features a full soccer pitch, live music performances, live radio broadcasts hosted by Reprezent Radio, World Cup screening room, and EA Sports FIFA lounge. The activation also features creator workshop sessions that give participants a chance to create customized shirts and cage designs as well as build a future adidas GLITCH soccer boot.
The campaign also highlights creators around the world who use their skills to solve urban challenges. In London, the experience includes a celebration of This Fan Girl, a community dedicated to uniting female soccer fans, along with a showcase of London visionaries creating sustainable products.
The World Cup only takes place every four years, but, brand strategies that engage diehard soccer fans around the world also apply to a variety of events. The key is to connect with fans on their own terms and in ways that augment the fan experience rather than disrupt it. Keep these tactics in mind and you’re bound achieve your GOOOOOOOAAAAALs!
Check out brand activations and sponsorships designed and produced by Sparks.