Guest Columnists

Industry figures share their views on the latest issues. If you have an idea for a guest column, email opinion@thedrum.com

| posted by

The World Cup: A huge global spectacle with an intriguingly local marketing flavour

By now, our man in Brazil Dominic Gramatte has travelled to see Germany vs Ghana and is now realising not all of South America is warm and sunny in Argentina before returning to the UK.

We know that England are coming home early, along with Italy and Spain, and Brazil (like many predicted) are going through. Do the attitudes of different countries to the World Cup mean the advertising strategies from global brands change according to the local audience? Similarly, are local brands embracing the opportunity to get in front of a global audience? My personal opinion is yes.

Main Content: 

Let’s look closer to home and what actually happened in England. There was an air of excitement pre-World Cup. Yes, we try hard not to expect anything. Yes, we are all very English about it (stiff upper lip and all that). But if we’re all honest with ourselves, there was a mood of national pride and hope that went with our relatively young and untested squad.

I pointed out in in my first post talking about World Cup advertising that it had been a slow start – in May really Nike was the only brand that had produced anything of note – however, since then we stepped up. The BBC ran a number of documentaries about 1966 (England’s last and only World Cup victory) and the design of the current trophy. Shops started selling anything and everything white and red (most notably the England flag coat – enough said). And advertisers, such as McDonald’s with its Gol! App, got into the game.

Perhaps the most unexpected advertising campaign and one (I would argue) to rival Nike’s ‘Winner Stays On’ was the Beats by Dre campaign ‘The Game Before The Game’, which launched one week before the start of the competition. The extended video format campaign is set to ‘Jungle’ by Jamie N Commons and X Ambassadors remixed by Jay Z.

Similar to Nike, this campaign tells the story of pre-game rituals for both players and fans – with many of the players appearing in the familiar Beat Headphones. Highlighting the tribalistic nature of the World Cup, the advertising campaign is incredibly emotive and, particularly for an England who rarely unite with such force, it has a strong effect.

Fast-forward two weeks and we know that we’re coming home without progressing form the group stage. There’s also a huge change in the national mood. While we will still probably watch the games, there isn’t the excitement that there once was. We won’t be staying out until 11pm to watch the last game. Pubs won’t be allowed to stay open anyway with extended trading hours only approved to the end of the group stage (did our politicians know something we didn’t?) The mood is of disappointment and humiliation for yet again not fulfilling our World Cup potential.

Brands are responding to this and trying to distance themselves locally from the World Cup. While the BBC and ITV will continue to show the matches, there won’t be any more documentaries. The retail space for England kit on the High Street in Topshop and Primark is now being filled with bikinis and beach bags as we move on with the summer. Coca-Cola’s UK website has now reverted to a standard homepage and its involvement with the World Cup is only accessible via a tab on its partnerships. The Gillette UK website has also returned to normal trading and Gillette England razors are now advertised as half-price in Morrisons. It seems brands are equally as quick to jump off the World Cup bandwagon.

But just because England’s World Cup is over, it doesn’t mean that everyone’s is and for that, I hand over to Dom in Argentina:

Greetings from Argentina – home to the winners of Group F. While I may have left the main attraction, I definitely haven’t left hype! Argentina is absolutely buzzing but on my way here I stopped in Forzaleza to see a small match between Germany and Ghana.

Inside the stadium I was surprised to see local Brazilian brands sharing ad spaces with global giants like McDonald’s, Adidas and Sony. In 2006 FIFA changed the sponsorship structure to allow national sponsors (a lower tier group of sponsors with roots to the home country to promote their association with the event in the national market) to get in on the act.

A lot of these brands don’t exist outside Brazil (or at least, not in the UK) so getting ad space in places like the billboards around the ground, knowing that these matches are going to be aired internationally is a huge global coup for these lesser known brands.

Something else that shocked me about the advertising at the Germany vs. Ghana game was Budweiser, which is an official World Cup sponsor. As a big US company, I would question the relevance of its sponsorship. Despite its huge population, the USA is one of the countries in this competition which cares the least about football.

I’m also curious about how it is putting this international play into its local markets. Prior to leaving, I didn’t see any World Cup advertising from Budweiser in the UK despite being quite readily available on tap in pubs across London at least. I’m also not seeing any advertising for Budweiser outside the stadiums. The main Brazilian beer is Brahma (seriously, they sell it in Nandos) and the only real place you can get Budweiser is the stadiums (no matter which stadium you’re in). I’m not sure what’s going on here but to me, this feels like trying to increase the American connection with the game through something local on the international stage.

Also, Coca-Cola has again got its local but global advertising right. I am LOVING the cups that are available inside the stadium. Not your regular red and white logo, each game has a specific cup that features the two teams battling it out. Definitely something I’m going to try and get back as a souvenir.

Interestingly, Coke is smothering Argentina as well. The campaign is identical apart from the flag and the language. To be honest, it works here as the football passion is incredibly similar and, given the close proximity to Brazil, it’s nice to see the consistency across the brand.

But Brazil has felt like a very local place. Coming from Europe, and this being billed as the social/mobile World Cup, I’ve been shocked that I’m almost never on my phone. Both Wi-Fi and signal have been a bit hit and miss, even in the cities, and while I want to be ‘in the global conversation’ the truth is that I’m not. Maybe it’s because I’m here in real-time and it’s such a party, I don’t really need anything to help me feel more involved in the game.

Next week, Dom will be back in the office and we’ll be looking at who’s really come out on top in the World Cup. Looking at the party that continues in Brazil, and the quick withdrawal of World Cup advertising in the UK, it seems that big brands have got the message this World Cup. While it’s global, it has to be local to work.

Simon Haynes and Dominic Gramatte are the UK managing director and UK business director, respectively, at IgnitionOne

Have your say

Do you have a strong opinion on a topical industry issue? To submit a comment piece, please send a short summary of your idea to opinion@thedrum.com. Views of writers are not necessarily those of The Drum.