July 24, 2018

Written By Nafisa Nawal Khan

The FIFA world cup is one glorious occasion occurring every four years, and while my soccer writing is pretty sparse on this page usually, don’t we all become huge football fans during World Cup season? Fans from every corner of the world gather to witness nail-biting matches between world class players and experience their outstanding play. The intense suspense in the atmosphere is what gets even not-so-regular football fans hooked to the screen. Win or lose, world cup fever affects all.

The FIFA world cup isn’t only limited to being a platform for players to compete against each other. Big and small companies, come down to play with innovative advertisement campaigns each better than the next. This time we have seen numerous companies chime in the world cup madness to promote their products. From sports companies to food and beverage, everyone celebrates the greatest show on Earth. Let’s look into some of the best campaigns by different brands this year.

Adidas’ Stellar Campaign

The apparel company went really big this time, coming up with a star-studded ad featuring Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, David Beckham, Mo Salah, Jose Mourinho, Gabriel Jesus, Luis Suarez and many more. The 90-second ad goes far beyond world class football players by including Pharrell Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Karlie Kloss, Usain Bolt, Damian Lillard and rapper A$AP Ferg who narrated the ad all-throughout.

As the stars are seen showing off their skills from the cage to the stage, A$AP talks about creativity being the answer to unite a world divided. The ad ends with Pharrell Williams handing over the mic to the viewer and A$AP saying “It’s over to you.”

Being featured in the Guardian, the Daily Mirror and many more newspapers this brilliant ad, directed by Manu Cossu at Iconoclast, successfully sparked a lot of excitement and gathered attention worldwide.

Adidas has also released another video featuring the young Egyptian favorite, Mo Salah. The apparel company tapped into Mo Salah’s growing fan-base. Mo Salah is seen talking about his perspective of his fans and how they drive him to create. This ad emphasizes on Adidas’ stance on ‘creativity.’


NIKE: Battle of boots

As always Nike fought tooth and nail with arch rival Adidas to secure the top post of popularity among fans. Their brilliant Brazil-themed commercial is nothing but extraordinary. Through excellent film-work, they captured the passion and patriotism of Brazil fans. The advert fluidly transitions from the Brazil team to streets of Brazil showcasing how everyone is affected by the world cup fever. Philippe Coutinho stars in this ad but the most interesting part was the short cameo of Brazilian legend Ronaldo recreating his famous airport miss.

Though Adidas has claimed victory over Nike this World Cup with their spectacular ad campaign, Nike has won the battle of boots by claiming 60% of the boots that the players will use according to The Daily Mirror. The fight between giants Adidas and Nike has also been covered in the international newspaper The Guardian.

Coca-cola’s inclusiveness and innovation

Coca-cola has been a brand trying to capture hearts of fans since initiation. The beverage company has invested in bringing out a new Coca-cola anthem every World Cup. This year is no exception with the inception of ‘Colors’ by Jason Derulo.

Innovation exists in the company’s latter campaigns. To celebrate Iceland’s first ever World Cup participation, Coca-cola partnered up with Iceland’s goalkeeper, Thor Halldorsson, who happens to be a filmmaker as well. This campaign successfully tapped into Iceland’s football enthusiasts as the ad showed the inspiring story of how the Icelandic team made it to the world cup even though their climate acted as huge obstacles.

Coca-cola also formed a unique partnership with FIFA and Panini, to invest in the timeless hobby of collecting sports cards and took it to the next stage by bringing it into digital form. An estimated 5 million people will be after these digital stickers for the FIFA World Cup Russia Book. Coca-cola is also giving fans an added boost with several opportunities to grab exclusive stickers along the way.

McDiversified approaches to dominate the World Cup

McDonalds has introduced an all-star line-up for the FIFA world cup that includes a new Sausage McMuffin with egg, Chicken Pizza Kicks, Happy Sharing Box and a Party McFlurry.

They have also released a passionate ad that emphasizes the availability of McDelivery at any time throughout the world cup.

To battle against the top dogs in the food chain, apart from coming up with a passionate ad featuring McDelivery, McDonalds has launched a whole new menu for its Brazilian fans. The innovative menu includes 8 burgers signifying 8 different champions of the world cup. The ingredients used in each burger are country-specific and that’s what sets these customized sandwiches apart from the original menu. Though this novel campaign is limited only to branches of McDonalds in Brazil, it has garnered attention from international newspapers like The Independent.

McDonalds took a step further and sponsored the official “2018 FIFA World Cup Fantasy League.” In this league, users get to register for free and are given an imaginary amount of 100 million euros to buy a team of 15 players. Prices of each player is set according to the data collected prior to the world cup. Points are given following performances of the selected players in every match. Winners are selected for every round and rewarded with official FIFA 18 PlayStation discs. There are prizes for the top 10 overall high-scorers in this league. Top scorer among them gets a brand new KIA Sportage car. An estimated number of total players engaged in this online game is about 3 million. So it can be seen McDonalds has much success this world cup.

“Never miss a thing” with VISA

VISA, being the official payment services partner of FIFA, has come up with a series of ads featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic. One of the ads show Zlatan boasting that he is going to go to the World Cup despite being dropped by the Swedish Team. Eventually he finds a way by using VISA and shows up to the World Cup claiming regulations are for the regular players and not him. VISA emphasizes that through its payment procedures, it will make it easy for people to attend the world cup and will make sure no one misses out on the glamour of the World Cup.


Gatorade and Heart of Lio

Sports drink, Gatorade has brought out a whole new perspective of Messi’s life in their animated short-film named “Heart of a Lio”. The short-film showcases how young Lionel Messi struggles with his growth defect but eventually excels and becomes one of the greatest players of all time. It adds numerous fantasy elements – from the invention of a special kit designed specifically to stop Messi from scoring, to God himself intervening to blow away a goal. Messi is seen in the end to regain belief in his dreams. He tells to the world that he will prove himself again by stating the film’s mantra, ‘If you have a dream to chase, no one can stop you.’ This emotional short-film went viral on social media gathering attention of Messi’s worldwide fans.


Beats’ inspiring mixtape approach

Beats by Dr. Dre have chosen to produce a big budget commercial with the lucrative world cup hype. This shortfilm ‘Made Defiant,’ claimed to be a mixtape, features Harry Kane, Mesut Ozil, Neymar Jr. and Benjamin Mendy. Serena Williams, Thiery Henry and Patrice Evra are brought in for a cameo to excite the audience even more.

The short-film narrated by Paul Anderson is broken into segments to mirror the tracks of a mixtape. The video starts with the story of a young Russian boy whose footballing skills get him in trouble with a group of bullies. The film moves on to show four separate stories of the football heroes who inspire the child to stand up to the bullies. The video seems to be more of a film than a headphone advert and is one of the best branded videos of the World Cup 2018.


Jumping on the Volkswagen

Collaborating with creative agency Deutsch, Volkswagen aimed to promote the company’s brand name in the United States by elevating the country’s current situation for not qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in three decades. Their ad campaign, named “Jump on the Wagen” features fans from different teams trying to persuade Americans to root for their teams during the tournament. According to the Vice President of Marketing, Volkswagen of America, “Given the unique situation for US fans in this year’s tournament, our jump on the wagen campaign encourages Americans to root for one of the thirty two teams in the tournament that may be tied to lineage, includes one of their favorite players, or has interesting backstory.” This campaign will feature Snapchat filters for countries still playing in the last two weeks of the tournament.

Additionally Volkswagen created a similar campaign for their fans in India, where they encouraged Indian fans who support one country to “be a sport” and support other countries if their favorite country loses. #BeASport campaign is similar to the US campaign because it encourages to jump on the bandwagon and support another team for the world cup.

Sony India’s heartwarming campaign

Being official broadcaster of the World Cup for India, the channel Sony released a series of very relatable events that made its audience nostalgic. Trending with the #MeriDoosriCountry, Sony taps into the spirit of the world cup among the people of India by telling different stories that show the intense enthusiasm of Indian people towards the World Cup be it in their way of celebrations or forming traditions to watch it with every generation. This series of ads have certainly been successful in capturing the unique characteristics that are found in the people of this subcontinent during the World Cup. Since Sony channels are available in not only India but also its neighboring countries, it has managed to increase its viewers by attracting more from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

What about local brands?

Local brands have been seen to catch the World Cup fever as well. Some of the notable ones are from the telecom companies of Bangladesh. Airtel Buzz has been seen to promote its brand name among the youth by coming up with a never-before-seen offer of giving away 1GB internet for every time a customers’ favorite team scores a goal. To avail this offer, the customer needs to recharge few specific amounts and register his favorite team’s name. On the other hand, Robi has introduced a special internet roaming offer for the football fans travelling to Russia for the FIFA World Cup.

Rival telecom company Grameenphone releases a song featuring Mamtaz, Tahsan, Kona, Mizan, Xefer and D-Rockstar Shuvo for the “Jitbe Amar Team” campaign to promote itself during the world cup.

Several ads are also released by Grameenphone, one of which features beloved cricketers Mashrafe Mortaza and Tamim Iqbal comically debating on whose team will win the World Cup. Aanother ad features the die-hard Germany supporter, Amzad Hossain, who made the news with his 5 km long German flag.

After analyzing all these innovative marketing strategies of both local and global brands, we can surely come to the conclusion that while local brands have decent marketing approaches, they are nowhere near the global brands in terms of ideas and execution. The local brands seem to take a more hackneyed approach of offering deals or showing comically true approaches towards the world cup whereas the big global brands always tend to make sure their campaign has a story around it so that they can connect more to the audience. At the end of the day, just offering deals can get the brand only so far, whereas providing the audience with a relevant strategic campaign will serve as a sustainable approach to staying in the hearts of the audience for a long long time. For local brands, the opportunity is actually huge because despite Bangladesh not playing in the world cup, the people are highly enthusiastic about it, creating an enormous market for strategic campaigns. So, we can conclude that despite our local brands showing off good marketing campaigns, there is still room for a lot of improvement.

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