Brands take to the field for World Cup kick off

The World Cup is just hours away and both sponsors and non-sponsors are flexing their marketing muscle to exploit the start of what industry observers predict will be the biggest sporting and commercial event ever. 

FIFA says its sports app will be the most downloaded ever.

Sponsors and non-sponsors have made unprecedented investments around the tournament to try and capture record sales this year and their efforts will be ramped up when Brazil take the field against Croatia tonight (12 June). 

Official FIFA partner Coca-Cola is looking to snare the limelight from rivals with a barrage of social media content around the unveiling of its “Happiness Flag” – a photomosaic crafted from thousands of crowdsourced images – during the opening ceremony. Posts from the drinks maker will detail how the flag was put together alongside calls to action to watch the video for its World Cup anthem “The World is Ours” (see below).

Rival Pepsi is hoping to top Coke’s effort with a musical number of its own. Twitter and YouTube will be used to launch Kelly Rowland’s “The Game”, the latest single from its Beats of the Beautiful Game Brazil-inspired album, which will also soundtrack Spike Lee’s short film (see below) to celebrate the start of the tournament. Fans will be encouraged to purchase the full album on iTunes with tracks for stars including Rita Ora, Timbaland and Janelle Monae.

Meanwhile, Lucozade is banking on its deep-rooted ties to football to push its branded content through the clutter. Grey-created reactive social media posts will run around the opening match, a strategy, like many other World Cup advertisers, Lucozade intends to hone throughout the tournament. A print campaign will also launch as the brand channelling the bulk of its media budget away from TV.  

Adidas is using the event to grab a bigger slice of online chatter from Nike after opting to hold back much of its promotional work in the weeks prior. On-the-ground stunts in Brazil and pre-prepared videos will start hitting fans from tomorrow alongside the first of six episodes from its “Soccer AM”-style YouTube show. Much of the activity will come across as “unexpected” to fans with Adidas claiming it wants to challenge peoples’ pre-conceived ideas of the brand. 

Nike is planning to stunt Adidas’ charge with a flurry of Twitter and Facebook content highlighting its official kit supplier ties to both Brazil and their opening opponents Croatia. Brand ambassadors Neymar and Luca Modric (see below) will front videos and images pushing the brand’s mantra of ‘risking everything on the field” to win.

Marketers are turning away from traditional channels to engage football fans this summer but Nielsen estimates £20.8m will be spent on TV advertising in the UK during the tournament. Budweiser will run ads for its “Rise as One” sponsorship drive during the opening ceremony ahead of a nationwide outdoor push from Monday that will see it cover wrap the IMAX cinema.

Virgin Media has also booked slots during the opening ceremony as part of a Manning Gottlieb OMD-planned campaign. Elsewhere, Sony will use the opportunity to push its tie-up with ITV whereby viewers are invited to share videos and photos of their “goal face’ to potentially be posted on-air.