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Sponsors pleased by early results
Published July 12, 2010
Sponsors of the 2010 World Cup faced some logistical challenges during the last month but left South Africa with confidence that they got a solid return on their investment.
From Coca-Cola to Sony to Visa, most sponsors say final measurements of their marketing efforts won’t be available until later this year, but early signs indicate that the 2010 World Cup helped strengthen their business and improve awareness of their respective brands in Africa and around the world.
Most companies developed global campaigns that targeted enthusiastic soccer markets in Europe and Latin America. Several also developed marketing campaigns designed to expand their distribution and brand awareness in Africa.
Coca-Cola undertook its biggest sports marketing campaign, developing events and ads that reached 160 countries. Its pre-tournament trophy tour attracted more than 862,000 people in 50 African countries and 34 additional countries worldwide. The company also developed a World Cup anthem — K’Naan’s “Wavin’ Flag Coca-Cola Celebration Mix” — which hit No. 1 on Apple’s iTunes single charts in 15 countries.
The company expects its World Cup campaign to help increase its sales by more than 5 percent during the six-month period prior to the World Cup, said Scott McCune, Coke’s vice president, integrated marketing.
“We have initial data in from sales, and we have data on brand health,” McCune said. “Early indicators are that it’s very successful for us. In March, April and even May sales, we’re seeing an uptick in Coca-Cola and Powerade.”
Sony used the World Cup to push its 3-D televisions. It also benefited from field-board exposure during games. When Keisuke Honda scored on a free kick against Denmark, Sony’s signage was on the field board. The image wound up airing more than 600 times on more than 40 stations in Japan, giving Sony an estimated $1.5 million in exposure.
“We knew how potentially large Japan could be if it started winning,” said Sony spokesman Susumu Kitadai.
Midway through the tournament, Adidas raised its projected revenue in the soccer category to $1.85 billion, $200 million more than it generated during the 2006 World Cup in Germany and 15 percent more than the category generated in 2008. The company estimates it will sell at least 6.5 million jerseys, more than double the 3 million it sold when the World Cup was last played in 2006. And though some players criticized its Jabulani balls, which are being used during the tournament, it expects to sell more than 13 million of them.
Digital campaigns formed the foundation of Visa and Anheuser-Busch InBev’s World Cup marketing endeavors. Visa launched a customized YouTube channel where fans could watch videos of former international soccer players call “goal” and upload “goal” calls of their own. The campaign hit No. 3 on Ad Age’s Viral Video chart.
“We didn’t really know what to expect,” said Jennifer Bazante, Visa International’s vice president of global brand marketing. “We threw out a goal of 5 million [video views] and actually surpassed it. We’re very pleased that it’s been picked up by fans around the world.”
A-B InBev found similar success with its Bud United campaign. The campaign was anchored by the digital reality show “Bud House,” which featured 32 fans representing the 32 World Cup nations living together for a month. The program has made Budweiser one of the top five branded video channels on YouTube throughout the tournament.
“This has been a very exciting ride and we’ve been so encouraged by the results we’ve had over the last month,” said Andrew Sneyd, Budweiser global advertising director.
The successes that companies achieved worldwide were mitigated by some challenges on the ground in South Africa. The threat of power outages and strikes required some sponsors to develop contingency plans on the ground during the event. For example, when concessionaires went on strike in Cape Town, Coca-Cola’s bottling system gathered 100 people to go into the stadium there and sell Coke, McCune said.
But such experiences didn’t overshadow the event, and companies have already begun looking ahead to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. McCune said, “There are huge opportunities in Brazil, especially when you think about the love for the sport.”