The beautiful quadrennial game captured the world by storm and it was hard not to get caught up in the whirlwind of infectious football fever, live action and brand sponsorship experiences worth $1.65 billion in marketing rights.
Despite the mounting anticipation and excitement from a global audience of football lovers, FIFA struggled to secure sponsors and partners following the corruption fallout at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Brand giants like Sony, Johnson & Johnson and BP’s Castrol pulled out of sponsoring, only to be replaced by a clutch of Chinese companies looking in on the action. Wanda Group partnered this year, while six new brands joined the sponsorship line-up, including Hisense, Mengniu and Vivo as well as regional backers Diking, Yaeda and Luci.
With the 2018 World Cup drawing to a close and almost coming home (well done boys you’ve done us proud!), we delved into the brand experience highlights that captivated an estimated global audience of 10 billion viewers.
A peak audience of 37 million tuned in to the BBC to see England make their first semi-final in the tournament in 28 years.
The largest American beer brand upped the stakes for this year’s marketing and sponsorship with a hard-hitting campaign focussed on immersive experiences.
Budweiser launched a matrix of innovative, digital techniques including:
- The first audio-activated AR Snapchat lens – this technology takes virtual experiences to the next level, enabling fans to engage with reactive brand filters and play AR games with touch, motion, and facial control features.
- Created eight million sound-activated red light up cups for its campaign: ‘Light Up the World Cup’. We admire this experiential sensory technology and love that the cups detect audio and cause LED lights to react and glow brighter when the sound increases with fever pitch cheers from the crowds. Engagement and interaction at its best.
- Diverse and inclusive light up cups – following the incredible coverage of Carlos Alberto Santana, a huge football lover who is blind and deaf, Budweiser adapted their light up cups with the additional vibrate feature which allows fans to tap into the game’s energy and live action.
- An inspirational storytelling video featuring a fleet of drones travelling from Budweiser’s Missouri brewery to countries around the world, finishing on an impressive shot of a swarm of drones delivering all-important Budweiser gifts to avid fans.
???? THEY’RE BACK! ????
— Budweiser Red Lights (@BudRedLights) February 28, 2017
Vivo led the “My Time, My FIFA World Cup” campaign with a real focus on digital experiences, online communities and fan engagement.
- At the 2018 tournament, Vivo released a limited edition V9 Blue smartphone and a complementary campaign to showcase the handset’s best digital features, namely the 16 mega-pixel camera. They flipped the engagement coin and transformed the conventional spectator into content curator.
Vivo embraced the saying ‘no two people have the same experience’ and gave fans the power to share their own, personal and extraordinary moments – something that definitely resonates with us and increasingly with Millennials and Gen Z’s.
- Granting access to exclusive pitch action, Vivo enabled fans and promoted their digital content including photos, video and even dances!
Handing the reins over to the fans created a real online buzz and boosted the brand’s credibility and loyalty on a global scale.
- The Chinese smart TV manufacturer revolutionised the way we watch the game with a built-in, one-click feature allowing viewers to see from 37 different angles! Fans could flick between angles and access 4K content from the comfort of their homes! Win.
- The World Cup brings viewers on a collective journey of hope, community and game highs and lows. Similarly Hisense launched a journey of their own with #SeeTheIncredible ‘Road to Russia’ tour! Across the World Cup, we watched comedian Lloyd Griffith travel to 5 countries and 6 cities as he made his way to Moscow. Lloyd interviewed sporting professionals and influencers, with the likes of Luis Figo, Robert Pires, Joshua Pieters, Michael Owen and Benedikt Höwedes. Hisense’s experiential marketing tactics fuelled football fever and captured the spirit of the World Cup, delighting and uniting fans from across the world.
#seetheincredible: Fourth stop Berlin ???????? Berlin, wir sind hier!We’re looking forward to discovering Germany’s capital. Follow @lloydgriffith and HisenseSports and join the Room of Legends with @benwedes on our Facebook channel tomorrow at 3:30 pm (CEST). #seetheincredible #hisense #WorldCup #berlin
- Seeing the tournament as the perfect international platform, McDonald’s capitalised on the opportunity and promoted their new 24/7 McDelivery service. With games being shown around the clock, this fast food solution caters for the die-hard football fans who don’t want to miss a thing!
- McDonald’s also surprised five lucky children with the incredible opportunity to be McDonald Player Escorts. The fortunate five wore broad smiles on the pitch as they got to meet their heroes and get in on the action! Like Evian’s #WimbleYoungReporters this month at Wimbledon, we think it’s great that brands are actively encouraging younger audiences to get into sports and be part of games that have captured the world’s attention.
TFW you find out you’re going to the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ ????⚽️???? We surprised five lucky children with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk hand-in-hand with a soccer star as they take the field as McDonald’s Player Escorts! #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/Z2w64x2Gkc
— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) June 13, 2018
Fast moving sponsorship brand experiences reflected the pace of the tournament this year; Chinese brands surprised and impressed in equal measure, presenting a spectacle to a global audience and leaving a lasting legacy until the next World Cup graces our screens in 2022.