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long term association trumps massive sponsorship spunk. and stickers win. July 20, 2010

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, brand, you tube.
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In amongst all the frenzied reporting about who out-tweeted who at the World Cup, what’s really caught my eye is who won out when it came to the brand association with football. Any student of marketing will tell you that branding is about the long-term and this is borne out by the Engage Research but with some interesting results.

What’s always interesting as a marketer is to observe the official brands who have spent obscene amounts of money sponsoring the World Cup (and by default seemed to have 30s and pitch side advertising everywhere) versus those who didn’t and either go big of their own accord or act in a smarter, more incisive way. And then there are those that just stick “footy” in the headline as a lazy way to jump on the bandwagon.

Such is the massive viewing of live games at the World Cup – and not just England – that sponsorship does guarantee reach. But, as we all know, times have changed and reach no longer guarantees brand engagement, talkability and sales. Who wants to drink Budweiser when watching football? Clearly other people agree and Carlsberg’s long term association with that bunch of players who looked like they never met each other (aka England) has clearly worked from the research results. Although a stunt can get cut-through as Bavaria beer demonstrated with hot girls in mini dresses.

Sky were possibly the biggest winners as despite not covering any game they had great positive association with the tournament. As a big fan of Sky’s Premiership coverage, having to watch the lame efforts of the BBC (smug Hansen et al) and ITV (Chiles trying to cheer up Townsend and Davids) makes you appreciate the professionalism of the Sky team and how it enhances the viewing experience.

This time around we saw unofficial brands such as Carlsberg and Nike stealing the early momentum from official brands. Nike’s Write the Future was apparently one of the biggest ad buys ever on Facebook and received gushing praise from all quarters despite none of the stars in the ad actually writing the future. I hope Wayne is enjoying his caravan.

Carlsberg’s Team Talk eschewed the glitz and glamour of Nike and is rooted in the heartfelt passion for the game. Not only a soul-stirring ad if you’re an Englishman – I dare you not to feel any national pride and choking at the “For Bobby” moment – but deepened the engagement through a You Tube channel enabling you to create your own team talk or see other iconic celebrities delivering their own team talk. And they had a lion too. Budweiser didn’t have a lion.

I really didn’t understand the Sure last 8 sweepstakes. Buy a can (so already I have to impart money before enjoying), enter a code (how old fashioned) and then if my team (I don’t get to choose) enters the last 8 (who cares – it’s all about the winning), I may win something between £5 and £50 (Wooh! Big money!). I think I’d rater spend the money I would have spent on the deodorant on Carlsberg. They have lions.

But my favourite World Cup campaign had to be Panini’s virtual sticker album. The inexplicable desire to collect every team member from England’s utterly useless Rooney to Chile’s playmaker Jaime Valdes is insatiable. As a child this consumed every single penny of pocket money and drove my parents mad. Now, as an (alleged) adult, it had the capacity to do the exact same thing. But online. So I could do it when I was at work. And the playground swapsies are still there – digitally! It’s just brilliant. All it needed to make it uber special was a lion.

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