Summer sponsorship review – part I

The summer of sport has left us but here we take a look at how brands performed at the different competitions. In the first of this two-part piece we look at the World Cup – it set all sorts of new records in online engagement but how did different activation strategies perform through the tournament?

A big story in terms of team success at the World Cup was that America came to the party and more than held their own. The success of the US Men’s National Team helped but their campaign team created great and easily shareable content ranging from the letter to the boss (see below) to Will Ferrell gatecrashing #FanHQ and rallying the troops with the chant “I believe that we can win”. Their tactics were simple, great to join in with and easy to share.

All In Or Nothing campaign. The preparation had been set well before a ball had been kicked as they compiled a ‘content bible’ including 1,000 images and 160 videos of their players. This online armoury was also useful for player projections on buildings around the world and out-of-home sites the morning after games. On the ground Adidas selected Fanaticos – a person whose enthusiasm or passion for the sport goes beyond the normal limits – to get the VIP treatment in Brazil for the tournament. The Fanaticos had proved their passion through a number of challenges from surfing in Brasilia, sand dune ‘snowboarding’ or kayaking their way round the Rio coastline.

Hyundai continued with their fan parks that have been present at previous tournaments. The fan park is an intriguing proposition, as it clearly will bring a huge number of people but they’re only there for the game.

Hyundai also had “Pin my fan park” online where people could submit their ideas for world cup parties and they get their own kits to have their own fan parks. For me the link to the product or even the brand is missing – you could switch the Hyundai logo for anyone else and the participants wouldn’t realise. Aside from showing the match, the benefit to the audience is missing.

One sponsor that impressed was Castrol with their player index, which they’d been using in the MLS ahead of the World Cup. This player tracking system measured every move of the players and how it helped or hurt their team, compiling a table of the best players throughout the tournament.

Strategically this was a great move from Castrol as it tapped into what excites the fans and gives them something back while maintaining a strong link to the brand – performance. Castrol are reaching a wider audience through football but they have come with something engaging and new. Beyond the novelty it has potential for an enduring legacy through future tournaments. Plus, they were able to test it operationally through the MLS season before it went global at the World Cup. In keeping with the performance theme Castrol also ran a tournament prediction contest that gained over 370,000 registrants through the FIFA site. All together a great approach that proved the value of pre-event preparation and creating new experiences that tap into passion and give something back to the consumer.
In the second part of this piece we’ll look at the other sporting events through the summer. Did brands decide to consolidate their efforts on the World Cup or take advantage of the lower competition around other events?

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