France was crowned world champion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Looking back on the tournament, the 2018 FIFA World Cup was not only a game for football fans but also a competition for international companies vying to benefit from a vast marketing opportunity.
During the games, Chinese firms piled in to sponsor the World Cup, securing an unprecedented presence at Russia 2018. Additionally, social media-based marketing has become widespread. While many Chinese companies launched advertising campaigns, Chinese internet giant, Tencent, sought to attract as many viewers as possible by making use of social media as well as mobilizing varies of online and offline resources. Let’s take a look at how these advertisers attempted to engage World Cup audiences with effective, innovative marketing campaigns.
Customized campaigns combined with online and offline resources
The World Cup was an unsurprisingly popular opportunity for marketing campaigns. During the duration of the event, 72 advertisers, including Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald’s, Mengniu Dairy, Vivo, Mercedes Benz, Nike, Sony, and many other well-known brands cooperated with Tencent Sports in launching a range of advertising campaigns on social media.
To better brand the firms taking part, Tencent Sports offered customized advertising campaigns for each. These customized campaigns took account of brand concepts as well as audiences’ interests. Tencent Sports in cooperation with Mengniu Dairy, for instance, organized an offline activity called ‘National Star Wars’, to which several real football players were invited.
What is special about these campaigns is that they all combine offline activities and online publicity, which is referred to as ‘physical-digital integration.’ For example, Tencent Sports organized a public activity named ‘Air Soccer Dance’ which was publicized online simultaneously. Tencent Sports also promoted an activity, ‘Search for the Best Shooter in 10 Cities’, which was helped by advertisements of dairy brand Mengniu. Online reports of these activities kept pace with offline activities.
Among the functions of media is to set agenda by which audiences are influenced. Offline activities promoted by Tencent Sports exerted great influence on audiences by creating a wide range of hot topics during the World Cup. Take ‘Looking for the Best Shooter in 10 Cities’ for example, which sparked discussions among audiences of ‘folk shooters’ across China.
In fact, efficient internet marketing campaigns may not be separable from qualified media content, and, more importantly, media resources. Firstly, Tencent Sports benefits from China’s ubiquitous social media app, WeChat, which integrates messaging, social media and financial technology. Secondly, Tencent Sports partnered with the Panini Group to become the sole operator and promoter for the FIFA World Cup Trading H5 App in China.
Thirdly, to better prepare its online marketing efforts, Tencent Sports organized various programs one hundred days before the start of the the World Cup. Tencent Sports announced the formation of the “Penguin Team”, a virtual football team, which included well-known football stars including Messi, Luis Suárez, Antoine Griezmann, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, among others. Tencent Sports also produced the programs “Being with Superstar Peers” and “Arrival of Superstars”, both of which provided Tencent Sports with exclusive content and platform resources to attract advertisers.
Audiences need additional entertainment while watching matches
According to Analysys, browsing through information and interacting with people are the most common activities audiences engage in while watching the World Cup. Therefore, activities designed for fun and interaction and, at the same time, associated with the theme of the World Cup become appealing and potentially lucrative.
A range of activities for getting audiences involved in internet marketing campaigns allows audiences to keep themselves entertained. Traditionally, audiences watching football matches are passive because they cannot take part in this match directly. Today, social media provides numerous resources for audiences to engage — for instance, the ability to create original online posters. Audience members can make connections with their friends by uploading these posters on their social media, particularly Wechat. For example, Tencent Sports, in collaboration with Mercedes Benz, launched a type of AI posters that includes “AI attitudes” and “Mercedes Benz attitudes”, which are cutting-edge advertisements that provide a means of audience interaction. When an audience member enters words related to the World Cup, a poster with the unique attitude slogan is automatically generated. Such innovative customer outreach has proven a success for brand marketing at the World Cup.
Tencent Sports also combined with TCL, Jingdong, and 10 other major Chinese brands to implement cross-border marketing, performing “air football dance”, which fully embodies the theme of “fun” at the World Cup.
Guochen Zhao, general operations manager of Tencent Sports, said that Tencent Sports hopes to not only provide more innovative ways for fun that differ from the traditional experience of watching the game, but also to offer a set of customized marketing plans for brands, allowing them to reach a wide audience yet maintain low advertising costs.
According to Analysys, the most popular media outlet among Tencent-using audiences. The advancement of the internet, especially social media, has dramatically shifted the habits of media usage. In the face of popular, large scale events, internet media platforms like Tencent demonstrate their advantages of an accumulation of young users, capacity for content planning, and useful social properties, all of which equate to the ability to exert tremendous influence over the choices of users.
(Top photo from Tencent)