The 2006 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Germany on June 9 with 32 teams from around the globe representing six continents.
The teams are broken down into eight groups of four, with the two best teams in each group advancing on to the next round of playoffs. The World Cup, which takes place every four years, was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea in 2002.
Despite the US' disappointing 3-0 opening-game loss to the Czech Republic, US TV viewership was way up on broadcast partner ABC. The three games broadcasted June 9 to 11 saw a 65% ratings increase from the first three games in 2002. While Germany's more optimal time zone certainly helped, media pundits attributed excitement, in part, to a good US squad.
Why does it matter?
As previously reported in PRWeek, the US Soccer Federation is increasing its media and PR outreach for the World Cup, with greater cross-promotional sponsorships for the US team than in 2002 when it reached the quarterfinals.
"Soccer can be a very successful marketing opportunity in this country, without being the NFL," says Peter Land, global MD of sports marketing at Edelman. "If you look at participation levels, thousands of kids are playing soccer. I think a lot of companies are looking at marketing at the youth level."
Land says Latino communities in the US are also a big marketing target for companies. "The trick will be what passions about soccer the Hispanic communities bring to this country," he adds. "It is going to take some time for these communities to develop a passion for soccer in this country."
1 The leading goal scorer of the World Cup is awarded the Adidas Golden Shoe. Past winners of the accolade include Gerd Muller, Ronaldo, and Just Fontaine.
2 The games are being played in 12 towns and cities around Germany: Berlin, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Hanover, Kaiserslautern, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg, and Stuttgart.
3 The slogan for the 2006 World Cup is "A time to make friends." In German, that translates to "Die Welt zu Gast bei Freunden."
4 The World Cup organizing committee launched two campaigns - one targeting schools and the other targeting soccer clubs - to encourage creative ideas about soccer and to launch World Cup Days to train coaches, respectively. The campaigns will reach 15 million people.
5 There are 15 official partners for the World Cup: Adidas, Anheuser-Busch, Avaya, Coca-Cola, Continental AG, Deutsche Telekom AG, Emirates Airlines, Fujifilm, Gillette, Hyundai, MasterCard, McDonald's, Philips, Toshiba, and Yahoo.