Our Views | 19.02.2018

Brands can play to win at the World Cup

The Superbowl. The biggest annual event in the U.S sporting calendar has just passed with an unexpected victory for underdogs, the Philadelphia Eagles. Yet for many, especially in the world of marketing, the game itself plays second fiddle to the true gladiatorial arena – the ad break. In keeping with the surprise victor theme, brands, Tide and Australian Tourism, were widely regarded as the champions of the ad game with their smart, respective campaigns. With 60 second slots costing a rumored $5m a pop, it was a particularly bold approach for brands with no obvious sporting connection to take. Yet, the figures don’t lie and what may have appeared to be a gamble at the time certainly paid off in the end.

Both brands eschewed 2017’s politically focused approaches to instead dial up the humour. Tide succeeded because they merged brand purpose with the event itself, which in this case, wasn’t the game, rather the advertising carnival at the center of it. By connecting these twin insights, Tide elevated their brand to stand out amongst the clutter, therefore capitalizing on the huge levels of interest tied to the main event.

So, what does this mean for brands here in the GCC? The region is gearing up for its very own ‘ad break event’ where brands, regardless of an obvious relation to the sport, see this as the perfect opportunity to make a significant splash.

On June 14, the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia with a symbolically important first game featuring Saudi Arabia. Important not only because it happens every four years, but because with four Arab teams having qualified for the first time, the 2018 iteration of the “biggest show on earth” has been tellingly dubbed the “Arab” World Cup. With billions of spectators expected to tune in, no brand can afford to miss out on what promises to be the most exciting event of the year across the region.

With the kick off date fast approaching, if you or your brands haven’t started planning yet, it’s time to get your head in the game.

Need a little guidance? Let’s take a page from some of the unexpected brand winners at this year’s Superbowl, to see how you can make your marketing work, when your brand traditionally has nothing to do with sports…

  1. Be true to your brand: If you have no obvious connection to the action then, first of all, don’t panic, and don’t try to force something that isn’t a natural fit. Sure, the World Cup is about football, but it’s about a lot more than that too. Find a story that fits your brand from the many threads of family, community, emotion, heritage, drive, determination and disappointment. The World Cup promises to be an emotional rollercoaster for millions, one that will unite, inspire and delight people. Millions of stories will be created. One will resonate with your brand, so make sure you find it.
  2. Think small: Don’t worry about finding $5m for a single TV spot. With the highest smartphone penetration in the world, it’s no surprise that in the GCC, the World Cup is expected to be mobile-led. It’s great to have a “big idea” at the heart of your campaign, but that doesn’t mean you need a big budget and, more importantly, means you shouldn’t neglect the millions of data-powered micro-moments being enjoyed every day on mobile devices.
  3. Be bold: If you want to use humor, be funny. If you want to be emotional, commit yourself. Put data at the heart of your thinking to ensure you’re telling the right stories, at the right moments that will genuinely resonate with your consumers.
  4. Find inspiration: Take a look at some of the witty ads that raised the bar at this year’s Superbowl.

This article first appeared on PHD MENA’s Our Views

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