The Biggest Sporting Event in History

This summer sports fans have traveled from all four corners of the globe to watch the greatest spectacle in football, the FIFA World Cup. The World Cup, hosted every four years, is the most famous sporting event in the world and is watched by more people globally than any other event. Over 1 billion people watched last year’s final.

With such a colossal event comes colossal opportunity for advertisers with huge brands like Adidas, Nike, Gillette and Castrol releasing multi-million dollar star studded ad campaigns in an attempt to win a slice of the huge revenue it generates. To put that revenue into perspective, fans visiting Brazil are expected to spend £6.6 billion which is 20 times more than they spent in South Africa in 2010. This figure doesn’t take into consideration the billions of people watching from their homes, from TV, mobile and tablet devices where ads are as common as a Neymar step-over or a Sergio Busquets dive.

So what is the real opportunity for advertisers? And what are the big brands doing to adapt to the way we view our sporting content in 2014?

Since the last World Cup the number of smartphones and tablet devices per capita has risen dramatically. The average UK citizen currently owns 2.7 mobile devices (SC Magazine) which is expected to rise to 5 mobile devices by 2017 (Cisco). Consumers expect flexibility- to watch what they want, where they want. They expect the convenience of a portable device which accommodates the viewing of online video at awkward hours of the working day. They also expect the hype generated by brands for the world cup, the story telling and the brand engagement and this is where the opportunity lies for advertisers.

World Cup advertising has seen a huge shift to digital with an emphasis on social media. This is reflected in the Adidas #Allin campaign, their largest ever, costing in excess of £50 million. The campaign draws on interactive video and uses brand ambassadors Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and co to create engaging content which encourages interaction. A significant amount of the campaign is pushed through social media with an emphasis on video sharing, although TV ads will play their usual part. The previous World Cup saw Adidas invest only 20% of their ad spend on digital, while this year the figure has risen to the point where it has overtaken their TV ad spend. To give you a rough idea of why TV ad spend isn’t accelerating at the same rate as digital - the average cost of a 30 second TV ad during half time of the World Cup Final rose from $129,000 in 2006 to $389,000 in 2010 (US market). The potential reach, engagement and interaction that TV advertising brings, has been surpassed by other channels, and social media in particular is blowing up.

The 2010 World Cup was responsible for the largest ever amount of sustained activity on Twitter. The record level of activity was surpassed in March this year, 3 months before this year’s event had officially kicked off. Brand ambassadors and player endorsement have always been central to advertisers’ World Cup campaigns, the continuous rise of social media and video sharing has greatly helped to affiliate a celebrity to a brand. After Lionel Messi scored his first goal of this year’s World Cup, 236,000 Lionel Messi related tweets were sent in the following minute.

As the cost of TV ads rise advertisers are constantly looking for the most effective way to target the consumer, they have drawn on the power of video and turned to the most densely populated areas of digital consumerism -social media. If planned and executed effectively, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, or in The World Cup’s case, shooting into an open net.

For more information check out Social Media Today’s analysis of The World Cup and its social media traction through this great infographic. (Full Infographic)