The looming World Cup has heightened the final’s commercial significance with advertisers hoping to use it as a launchpad into the crucial four-week period before the tournament. More than 220 million viewers are expected to watch the final this Saturday (24 May) when sponsors and non-sponsors will battle to shape interactions around the feats of stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and David Villa.
In a marked shift from previous years, sponsors say that while their digital plans for the final will prioritise real-time engagement, they are also being designed to integrate activity across the full advertising mix. It is no easy task to amplify fast, shareable content across multiple channels and sponsors have spent the last season forging stronger bonds with their agencies and UEFA to address the challenges.
Ford’s efforts have seen it loosen the reins when it comes to real-time marketing, forming a command centre to produce content within brand guidelines around the match. The hub is part of the car marque’s final Champions League activity after 22 years, which will celebrate the arrival of the Mustang in Europe. Ford says the hub will drive buzz around a digital pop-up shop it will open for fans to pre-order the Mustang during the final as well highlight its half-time advert during the final (see below).
Heineken hopes its own efforts around the final will move the goalposts when it comes to shaping fan interactions around the match. The brewer has roped in two un-identified players from Atlético and Real to host the final phase of its “Share the Sofa” Tribal Worldwide Amsterdam-created campaign, which lets fans engage with Tweets, photos and Vine videos from famous players. Tweets are also being pushed into banner ads on sports sites around the final, while some 30,000 visitors to its screening parties around the world will be able to interact with one another from the venues.
Paul Smailes, global head of digital for Heineken, says: “We have an in-house team that works as a command center for our social media work in all Heineken’s markets. For ‘Share the Sofa’ we have a social command centre that will travel to Ibiza for the final that will implement the real-time activation.
“We’re focused on driving real-time relevancy with fans by turning that association the brand has with the event into passion points. We’ve become more sophisticated in how we use real-time listening tools to engage with fans and target those with the biggest and most influential networks.”
That is why Adidas has decided to switch up the way it exploits the growing appetite for statistics and content from fans when they are watching matches. For the final, the German business will use its Gamedayplus command centre to curate in-game moments, highlights from its experiential zones in Lisbon alongside feedback to its World Cup advert, which will air during half time.
Joel Seymour-Hyde, vice president of strategy at sponsorship consulting group Octagon, which is working with Mastercard on its Champions League final activity, says: “The biggest trend we’re seeing now is that sponsors are more interested in quality of engagement and viral content rather generating clicks and retweets. That links to how brands are connecting the live with the online. They’re looking at how that live experience can live both digitally and physically.”