Companies focus on interaction in World Cup-themed campaigns

Coca-Cola has been a sponsor of the FIFA World Cup since 1978 and this year took the official trophy on a global tour, letting fans interact with the tournament in a new way.

Coca-Cola has been a sponsor of the FIFA World Cup since 1978 and this year took the official trophy on a global tour, letting fans interact with the tournament in a new way. The theme of interaction with the sport and tournament is one that many companies—official sponsors or not—are using to leverage the 2010 World Cup in their marketing plans.

“We've been there for a long time and are part of those emotions,” says Gorki De Los Santos, communications manager for Coca-Cola. “We said, 'Let's take this property we have, the FIFA World Cup, and not only focus on the Hispanic consumers, which we know love soccer, but let's focus on everyone.'"

The company, in addition to its global tour, also has a video campaign, which encourages fans to submit a video showing how they would celebrate if they scored a goal for their favorite team. Other marketing elements include advertising, limited-edition packaging, and an international soccer camp for teens.

McDonald's, the official restaurant of the World Cup, is doing in-restaurant activations, digital outreach, and even a Player Escort program where kids get to go on the field with players at the games.

Bridget Coffing, VP of global communications for McDonald's, says this year's World Cup is "probably the most comprehensive activation" the company has done.

"As we looked at the sponsorship, it certainly spans cultures," she says. "We really do not have a singular target audience. It's just World Cup and soccer fans, which are so diverse." The company is using digital outreach, including a Fantasy Football (soccer) game and an online Ultimate FIFA World Cup Fan photo contest, to reach teens and young adults specifically.

But while Coca-Cola and McDonald's are official sponsors, other brands are using more local events or specific Hispanic programming to leverage their participation.

Time Warner Cable, for example, did both, hosting a local event in Los Angeles to promote its Spanish-language coverage of the World Cup, through Univision and a new Lo Mejor On Demand channel. The event included setups of living rooms showing the games, concerts, and areas where attendees could be tested on their soccer skills.

Marisol Martinez de Rodriguez, director of multicultural marketing for Time Warner, says the company is trying to bring the excitement of the tournament to life.

"We are trying to be more relevant to the Hispanic customers, to bring sports that they are passionate about," she says.

Edelman Multicultural worked with Time Warner on its Lo Mejor on Demand program, and SVP Audrey Ponzio said the key to World Cup marketing is to stand out in the crowd.

"The World Cup, for Latinos, is going to be one of the biggest television drivers, so it makes complete sense [for Time Warner] to go with this," she adds

Clay Smith, SVP at sports marketing agency Octagon, oversees all of the activation for the agency around the World Cup and says the increasing globalization of soccer helps brands get the most out of their participation.

"Like anything, it comes down to how you leverage it," he says. "The World Cup represents the scope and breadth; its reach is pretty much incomparable."

That reach is one reason why Tecate wanted to get involved somehow with the World Cup this year, says Michael Olguin, president of Formula PR, whose Formulatin division is AOR for the Mexican beer brand.

Tecate isn't an official sponsor of the World Cup, but "we looked at it upside down, celebrating the Mexican soccer fan," Olguin says.

The campaign encourages fans to call into the popular radio show Piolin por la Manana or go online to submit their stories of the craziest thing they have ever done to see a game or support their team, and how it shows their character.

"We are very oriented to our strategy, all about character," says Felix Palau, VP of marketing for Tecate and Tecate Light. "It allows us to go through many platforms." Additionally, Tecate is working with several current and former Mexican National players for appearances and limited-edition packaging.

Olguin summed up the goal for Tecate, and other brands turning to the World Cup in the next month, saying "our whole strategy was to really leverage the awareness that will exist with soccer."

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