When France defeated Croatia yesterday to win the 2018 World Cup championship, it capped four weeks of dramatic live soccer that captivated fans worldwide. The event featured 32 teams from six continents that played 64 matches, and that diversity created an unrivaled opportunity for brands looking to reach consumers across cultural segments.
At a time when marketers are challenged to cut through the clutter, sports -- and the World Cup in particular -- are valuable because fans watch or listen live, and the games produce high-levels of emotion and engagement. As Lisa Torres, President of Publicis Media’s multicultural practice explained, “It’s visceral -- people really pay attention.” Torres spoke to MediaVillage about what makes the World Cup so effective for cross-cultural marketing; how digital, mobile and social media are changing the game, and the best ways brands can stay connected after the trophies are awarded.
Alli Romano: What makes sports, and the World Cup in particular, so valuable? How can they be used most effectively?
Lisa Torres (pictured below): In my opinion, the No. 1 attribute is live viewership and the “attentiveness factor” you get with it. You just don’t get the same type of engagement with any other program or media, and the World Cup is a prime example. In terms of effective marketing, the global nature of the World Cup is what makes it such a great and relevant place to speak to multicultural consumers. Based on who’s playing, you have a very good sense of who will be watching, and the breadth and volume of viewership makes it a great opportunity as well. Because the World Cup is only played every four years, it’s really hard to find another sport or event that offers the same level of engagement and general interest. The fandom is real. People in Mexico City celebrated so hard after the victory over Germany that they literally set off earthquake sensors. What other event do you know of where fans celebrate that hard? This kind of passion and coming together to celebrate the sport is what the World Cup is all about.
Romano: When targeting multi-cultural audiences, how do marketers need to tailor their creative for different audience segments?
Torres: It’s important for me to caveat that each’s brands approach to multicultural strategy and creative is a totally unique case and should be approached as such, but there are many research studies that indicate that creating culturally relevant creative in any language works better than generic or “one size fits all” creative.
For example, if you are going to do a soccer ad and you want to reach Latinos, you have to make sure you do it right. You need to enlist someone who’s an expert on both your audience and the sport. A "sports expert” doesn’t always translate to a Latino soccer expert, for instance, and there is a critical difference there.
Romano: The World Cup is a hit with U.S. Latinos, but how much does it appeal to other audience segments in this country?
Torres: Again, since the World Cup is a global event, you truly get the opportunity to engage across all multicultural segments. Beyond its global nature, I think soccer’s popularity comes from its Latin American roots. Soccer is the No. 1 sport in most countries outside of the U.S. and it is a sport that is passed from generation to generation. It is kind of similar to how a whole family would be Giants fans. Fandom like this transcends your circumstances; it doesn’t matter if you’re born in the U.S., or if you speak Spanish or not -- you can identify with the game. I think that’s true for a lot of cultures.
Romano: The World Cup games were available across multiple platforms, including radio, TV, digital and mobile. What opportunities do these media offer to reach multicultural fans?
Torres: When it comes to the World Cup, all platforms have great potential to reach multicultural audiences. We know that mobile and digital over-perform for Hispanic audiences in general, but honestly, the typical rules don’t apply when it comes to World Cup. For example, we [have seen] strong live viewership and really strong digital streaming across a multitude of audiences. We think the time zone differences and geography are playing a big role in this viewing behavior, but it’s a bit too early to prove if that hypothesis is correct.
Romano: What new opportunities are there with mobile and social media?
Torres: With this World Cup and each one that came before it, we’re seeing more and more advancements in technology that didn’t exist in the previous one. So much can change in four years. If you don’t have a social and mobile strategy, and if your assets and creative are not mobile-enabled, you are really losing out. You have to keep up with technology and stay current with the ways in which people are viewing and engaging with content.
Romano: Following the World Cup or any other major event, like the Olympics, the Super Bowl or NCAA March Madness, how can marketers continue their engagement?
Torres: Data will always play a big role in how you optimize an audience after any major event or tentpole like the World Cup. I have always recommended to our clients that they have an “after-market” strategy to ensure they don’t lose any of the momentum that comes from big events. After World Cup and similar events, the hope is that you can use data to learn and iterate for what comes next and that you net out with a slightly bigger pool of audience than when you went in.
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