If you’re in South Korea during the upcoming World Cup games, be prepared to cheer. Korean news media are reporting that automaker Hyundai is sponsoring a street campaign throughout that country to cheer on the national team. An official sponsor of the games, Hyundai is partnering with municipalities and non-profits to stoke national fervor, and of course, brand recognition.
As a Nike marketing executive proclaimed in a recent Ad Age article, the world cup is “the No. 1 event in all of sports.” Yet what’s striking about the games this time around is just how far companies are going beyond television advertising to emphasize social, events, and other unpaid marketing tactics.
Although Hyundai’s campaign includes paid TV commercials, a look at the company’s website suggests that these are just one element—and a relatively minor one at that—in a much broader integrated campaign. The page describing Hyundai’s campaign lists TV commercials only very briefly and below a slew of other tactics, including stadium perimeter boards, a “fan fest,” a “Fan of the Match” promotion, a “Hyundai Best Young Player Award” promotion, online promotions, sponsorship of official Hyundai buses, and other elements.
Or take Coca-Cola. The firm integrated campaign around the theme “Open Happiness” includes many social media elements, including a deal with YouTube in 120 countries and 17 languages to prompt viewers to post videos of self-created goal celebrations, and an award to the player with the best goal dance determined by fan voting. Other elements that go beyond traditional TV advertising include “in-store displays, packaging, music, experiential and digital programs in more than 150 countries around the world”
As it did during the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola’s chief competitor, Pepsi, is pulling the plug on television altogether, opting instead to circulate ads via social media platforms. In March, Pepsi’s two and a half minute ad debuted at seventh on Ad Age’s list of most circulated viral videos, with over a half million views. Visa’s efforts feature a “mobile app that lets fans monitor the match schedule, track scores and standings, chat with each other and even connect with the FIFA store.” Other campaign elements include retail and social media, in addition to TV and out-of-home.
Is inclusion of unpaid media improving marketers’ ROI when it comes to sporting events? It’s hard to tell, although marketers like Hyundai seem happy enough.
(Providing a different perspective, a digital marketing firm in the UK did analysis on the search strategies of some of the FIFA World Cup sponsors, which has a correlation to social media strategies, and found the results underwhelming.)
Sponsorship spending overall is expected to be higher than ever, topping out at over $17 billion in 2010, up 3.4% over the previous year.
In a recent survey of senior marketing executives over half reported that “event marketing is the discipline that best accelerates and deepens relationships with target audiences,” and almost sixty percent claimed that their firms either had transitioned or would transition from “event” marketing to “experience” marketing, which integrates live and online brand experiences.
Analyzing Super Bowl marketing, Pete Blackshaw has proposed seeing it as an “ecosystem of paid and unpaid media.” As he argues, “[w]hat marketers urgently need to understand is not only total ROI on that mega-media buy, but the full return on all the other activities triggered or reinforced by this paid media stimulus.” Nielsen is now measuring the effectiveness of Super Bowl ads by paying attention to a number of “earned media inputs,” including buzz volume, brand sentiment, talk drivers, and fans and followers. As the title of one recent blog posting proclaimed: “Super Bowl ROI, More Social Than Ever.”
All of this is great news for public relations firms. We have great strength in the earned media arena, and we should do even more to help clients reap the benefits of sports sponsorship. Sporting events like the World Cup are fertile ground for us—and that’s definitely something to cheer about!