No one can escape the onslaught of World Cup fever this year, as teams and fans from around the world congregate in Russia to battle it out.

And with such a major global event comes fantastic advertising campaigns.

But the most impactful marketing is the kind that’s hinged on deep research that proves a brand’s dedication to consumer-centricity.

Here are some of our favorites so far.

1. FOX Sports and 23andMe – Root for Your Roots

With the U.S. team getting eliminated from the 2018 World Cup in the qualifying round, few marketing opportunities presented themselves as fans were left without a team to support.

In an inspired move, FOX Sports and genetic research company, 23andMe, came together to give everyone in the U.S. a team to follow throughout the championship.

In-house research from FOX Sports uncovered the insight that 58% of fans who couldn’t pinpoint their ancestral origins would watch more of the World Cup if they knew where they came from.

An idea was born, along with the resulting ad campaign, ‘Root for your Roots’.

In the ad, the narrator says:

“You may not speak the language or have visited the country, you may not know their heroes, but we’re all connected to a World Cup nation through our DNA.”

With this message, the sports broadcaster and genetics brand have merged their missions and given everyone in the U.S. a team to root for, creating an audience that will tune into the games stateside.

2. McDonald’s – Hungry Moments

The Hong Kong arm of McDonald’s is making great use of data to target consumers at the right time during the latest World Cup.

Using Google’s Real-Time Triggers, McDonald’s harvests real-time data to find out when viewers are most likely to be hungry during the games.

The fast food giant then pushes ads at these pertinent times to entice football fans to make an order.

When trying to pinpoint these so-called ‘hungry moments’, the brand uncovered the insight that football fans get hungry when excited, making the beginning, half-time and end of a game ideal times to target this cohort, along with whenever a goal is scored.

Gary Wong, managing director for OMD Hong Kong, the agency behind the campaign, told The Drum:

“This campaign is a testament of our endeavour to inject human insights into data technology, a belief which also resonates with McDonald’s.”

3. National Centre for Domestic Violence –  The Not-So-Beautiful Game

Of course, despite the excitement around the event, there’s also a dark side to the sport that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Ahead of the championship, the National Centre for Domestic Violence uncovered the insight that reports of domestic violence in the UK increase 26% when England play, and 38% when the team loses.

Highlighting the link between football and domestic violence, the brand set out to raise awareness around the issue.

“As fans across the world watch each game with trepidation, so too do the partners of some of those fans,” Jo Wallace, creative director at JWT told The Drum

“The team saw these stats and immediately created this excellent work to help reach and support victims of Domestic Violence during the World Cup when they are in particular danger.”

The imagery depicts the national flags of England, Japan and Switzerland over women’s faces in blood, tying the love of the game back to domestic violence.

The campaign will be running in all three countries on each game day throughout the World Cup.

[Image credits: The Drum]

4. IKEA – Flexible Sofas

In a great example of ambush marketing, furniture brand, IKEA, has taken to social media to get in on the World Cup conversation.

The humorous campaign is based on the insight that “amongst all the World Cup fever, there are those who aren’t interested in watching the soccer. Or perhaps they support a different team to their friends.”

To connect this finding with its product offering, IKEA tweeted out tongue-in-cheek images showing their modular sofas positioned in ways where those who are non-fans, or fans of other teams, can co-exist.

[Image credits: Creativity Online]

It’s social engagement at its best, proving anyone can tie a major event back to their brand without a huge advertising budget, with the right message.


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