Digital Marketing and the Fifa 2018 World Cup

Digital marketing doesn’t stop for anything, not even a World Cup. In fact the digital world tends to explode with everything from football results to giant flags on national landmarks.

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The 2018 World Cup is upon us, football fans (and those who don’t get a choice) everywhere are gearing up to bask in international football. There will be dedicated TV and internet coverage every day until the tournament ends, which will be closely followed by reviews, documentaries and millions of opinions about who turned up and who didn’t. But where does the ever changing world of digital marketing sit in this year’s tournament?

Well, 3.2 billion people watched the 2014 World Cup in-home, the official Fifa instagram account enjoyed some serious traffic with an increase from around 40,000 followers to 1 million. And finally, the big one; a whopping 32.1 million tweets were posted about the 2014 final between Germany and Argentina. That’s 32.1 million tweets about 90 minutes of football. Clearly worldwide tournaments like Russia 2018 present huge marketing opportunities due to the digital coverage it receives, with this year primed to set new levels.  

In 2014 there were 188 licenses offering coverage via websites, media players and apps. Now remember we are four years on from that tournament. Mobile data and coverage has advanced, apps are better, the Amazon Firestick is around and Chromecast is more powerful.

It’s all about real-time advertising

So yeah, digital is a big deal when it comes to the World Cup. Sports broadcasting continues to be one of the few remaining forms of commercial entertainment where it’s all live. Watching a match on catch up really doesn’t have the same effect, so adverts, social media and other forms of advertising can be pitched to the audience at the perfect moment. Take Dominos for example; they can’t anticipate when you will begin watching your favourite series on demand, but they can guarantee ordering a pizza just before kick off will ensure a fresh one is delivered to you for half time.

Come the World Cup, millions of people across the world will be tuning in simultaneously to watch the tournament, providing the perfect platform for advertising to a live, engaged and receptive audience via a single channel.

Official Fifa sponsors on social media

At Euro 2016, hosted by France, Orange launched a social media campaign called #OrangeSponsorsYou. This campaign had everything; it engaged the people, featured a national hero (Zinedine Zidane), used the most up to date technology and brought their digital marketing to life.

Orange set out to find the best fans from all over Europe and give them a voice. The campaign enjoyed huge success as the audience was given the chance to affect the city of Paris via a direct, real-time engagement with social media. They were not just privy to marketing, they had a direct impact on the overall outcome – they had the chance to light up the Eiffel Tower. As the country which received the most support across social media at the specified time, would see their colours projected onto the iconic landmark.

This campaign required extensive planning and agreements between Orange and France for lighting up to happen. None of this would have been possible if Orange had not been the main digital sponsor of the tournament.

World Cup social media for everyone else

The nature of social media allows marketers to seize opportunities the moment they arise. Twitter helped numerous brands capitalise on the 2014 World Cup when Suarez famously bit Chiellini: Snickers quickly told Suarez to grab a Snickers the next time he’s hungry. A spur of the moment tweet that didn’t cost a penny, resulted in over 40,000 retweets and nearly 20,000 likes.

Fifa’s rules for advertising are strict. They are designed to ensure the official sponsors have exclusive rights over imagery, logos, descriptions, making advertising around the tournament a tricky task for non-sponsors. However, there is light at the end of the digital tunnel as social media allows companies to take advantage of in game incidents (such as Suarez Vs Chiellini’s shoulder), match results and anything else not directly linked to the Fifa brand.

Russia 2018 and social media

What can we expect from this year’s tournament? Well, Ibrahimovic is part of Visa’s campaign, so no doubt that will be interesting. Coca Cola remains an official partner of Fifa and their 2014 campaign was their largest yet. They may be out to better that in Russia, so I’m expecting big things. Qatar Airways has partnered up with Fifa for this year’s tournament, which is their first foray into World Cup participation, so they may be looking to go big in Russia.

And the rest is up to everyone else sharing amazing content on social media between now and the 16th July.

Check out the full list of official partners and sponsors here so you know where to look for official 2018 Fifa World Cup social media content.

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