Germany on the field, Twitter off it!

23 Jul,2014


By Delshad Irani


World Cup 2014 had socially active fans of football, and everyone else who didn’t want to be left out, spend as much time watching the likes of Goetze and Suarez make history as sharing their two cents on the moments of joy, agony, madness and comedy on social media. Their eyes darted like Captain Luiz’s caught in the Mineirão lights between the antics on pitch and the tweets and posts off it.


The sheer volume of World Cup tweets that flowed like tears on a Brazilian babe on Black Tuesday has given the good folks at Twitter and marketers who bet big on the first truly social World Cup, reason enough to celebrate, regardless of national allegiances.


The opening match between Brazil and Croatia was bombarded with 12 million tweets, that’s more than the entire tweet volume of the previous FIFA World Cup. So, for Pele’s sake, let’s be reasonable, and put things in perspective shall we? Yes, your team crashed out in a blaze of shame leaving in its wake psychologically scarred five-year-olds who can no longer bear to look at a football.


But what’s a little heartache, even if it’s splashed on the front pages of every major paper in the world, when you’ve got a couple hundred more followers in 90 minutes? No extra time required, Ref. (Hear that, #ARG?)



Before the 20th FIFA World Cup kicked off in early June, Twitter went all out to woo people to use the platform as an ideal companion that enhances your World Cup experience and not as just another megaphone for the newborn soccer pundit in you. Though a few didn’t get the memo. Twitter’s campaign included an all-you-can-tweet buffet of hashtags like #BRA #GER #NEDARG #WorldCup, et cetera.


They made sure every player on every team for every country is on the platform, knows how to tweet and is tweeting. All 32 countries were active on the platform and most players tweeted regularly be it from practice sessions or the stands. The company made certain the content flowed across media. There was even a video akin to the likes of World Cup favourites Nike (‘Write The Future’ – 2010, ‘Risk Everything’ – 2014), Adidas, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The site quickly turned in to a carnival of planned and reactionary content around the Cup.


In 32 days, 672 million tweets related to the World Cup were unleashed, that’s over 10 per cent of the planet’s population. Brands had conversations and engaged not only with fans but with each other also. Tweets went back and forth between McDonald’s and Visa who indulged in a round of Twitter joust in the group stage. Taking a hands-on approach, the social media platform sent in specialists to work closely with brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola to operate their social newsrooms from Rio to Tokyo, and drove conversation further and wider than in any previous marketing campaign to date.


Coca-Cola India garnered a social footprint of 6.2 billion impressions on Twitter. According to a Coca-Cola spokesperson, “This has by far been the brand’s largest ever social campaign in India which was a result of integrated marketing supported by a well knitted TV, radio, print and on-ground activity in its key geographies.” The social campaign was led by an editorial team at a specially created Live Wire room by Coca-Cola India. This team created and seeded real time content using meme images, Vine videos, leveraged multiple celebrities along with 250 advocates or influencers to cover everything from stats, WAGs and wacky hairdos to contests.


While Coke had the big global TV campaign, “in India the goal was to drive real-time conversations and content around the global asset, #WorldsCup. Twitter was at the heart of the social media strategy integrating multiple touch points from TV and radio to on-ground to leverage available content,” says Anamika Mehta, CEO, Initiative, who led the media team for Coke’s campaign.



“Compelling moments like the World Cup become the way to make Twitter more concrete,” says Shailesh Rao, VP – Asia Pacific, Latin America & Emerging Markets, Twitter Inc. “If you are following a match, well, participate in the conversation. If a goal excites you, tell the world. Not only was it hugely successfully in terms of engaging users but brands as well did some phenomenally creative things.”


Big ticket marketers pump in millions in the Cup, in the range of $25 – $50 million, to realise their marketing strategies, to be part of the conversation and to engage with fans, old and new across the world. For instance, markets like the US saw a surge in popularity of football and renewed interest in the game from marketers. The US goalkeeper, Tim Howard being its greatest beneficiary.


India, a Top 10 market for Twitter, was responsible for 3.2 per cent of the entire buzz on the platform, according to reports. Since the first match on June 12, @DFB_Team and @Argentina have increased their followers by 62 per cent and 139 per cent, respectively. Whichever way you look at it, that’s good news for kit sponsors and global and national brands associated with the teams and the game’s international stars.


Says Adidas Group CEO, Herbert Hainer; “From having both finalists, the winning team and all three Adidas golden award winners to being the most talked about brand in social media, we were able to dominate the tournament on and off the pitch.” From its base in Rio, “Posto adidas” (Posto is the name for local landmarks along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro), the sportswear brand’s marketing team uploaded planned, anticipated and reactive content to drive its conversation online with football fans.


Focussing its campaign on share of voice and reactive moments, Adidas had 917,000 mentions of #allin on Twitter – more than three times as much as any other brand during the tournament, the official sponsor claims. Certainly, the Adidas poster of Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez channelling his best Fox Terrier near Copacabana which turned in to a tourist attraction helped. Adidas took down the poster, of course, but not before hundreds of fans shared their Suarez bites with the world. Along the way, Twitter became a powerful and efficient tool in the marketer’s arsenal to amplify their efforts so one can get more shots on goal. And, according to Rao, “what we saw in terms of results was that TV conversation retargeting in Brazil lifted the engagement rate substantially when it was included in the overall campaign.”



During this World Cup, in the seconds that followed spectacular goals, saves, dives and bites and referees fixing their hair on screen and Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger’s smooch selfie, fans, brands and “newsjackers” got to work on the platform to share comments, vines, memes and japes with the planet. When Italian centre-back Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder ran in to Suarez’s teeth it launched a thousand tweets. Brands dived in to the action with their own cheeky takes. Real-time marketing war rooms are set up for exactly this kind of stuff.


“More Satisfying Than Italian” Snickers tweeted. Budweiser and Listerine promptly bought Promoted Tweets around the #Suarez hashtag. And @Listerine tweeted: ‘We recommend a good swish after grabbing a bite of Italian. #WorldCup #PowerToYourMouth’. Brazil’s catastrophic 1-7 loss to Germany in the semi-finals (a match that triggered a record breaking 35.6 million tweets) and Germany’s ultimate triumph gave some marketers their Oreoesque moments as well. Irish bookmaker, Paddy Power tweeted a picture of Brazilian striker Neymar Jr brandishing a 7Up can with a tweet that read: ‘Well, this is awkward…. (via @diosflorentino) #BrazilNuts’.


And, in case you missed it, Sony Xperia recreated the match in Vine form with Subbuteo figures and a goal net with seven holes in it. Besides receiving countless retweets and favourites, they and many more were extensively shared and covered in the news, online, TV and print. Even traditional ads got traction online, when people tweeted a Singapore anti-gambling ad in which one boy tells another “I hope Germany wins. My dad bet all my savings on them.” @Mr_Mike_ Clarke tweeted: ‘This anti-gambling poster has backfired a little.’ Instead of just taking down the poster, the National Council on Problem Gambling had to come up with a save à la Howard with another ad. “Your dad’s team won. Did you get your savings back? “No, Dad never stops.


He wants to bet one more time.” Says Vishal Sampat, CEO, SMG Convonix, “One could easily follow the entire game by just being on Twitter. This meant that Twitter became important not just for a digital campaign but also a 360 degree campaign. As a platform it allowed brands that used it effectively to run a two way communication campaign with potential or existing consumers of their products.”



Although the following might sound needlessly laudatory, the fact is while the beautiful game was played on the green pitches of Brazil, the drama unfolded on our Twitter timelines. That’s where the millions who couldn’t afford a trip to the Maracana watched the game together and shared their collective glee and distress. Sure we could spend hours attempting to put results in to tangible returns on investment and argue over matters close to the CFO’s heart, for instance, raking up the mentions is all dandy, but what did it do for sales? As it stands today, social media is more about engagement and awareness and not how many shoes flew off the shelves.


It’s about engulfing your brand in a thick cloud of buzz. For now, it’s all worth it when people stop seeing the brand as a nuisance trying to butt in on a conversation and instead become the friend at the party everyone wants to hang with. Isn’t that the point of all marketing nowadays anyway?


So to answer the question which brand won the first social World Cup? The one who scored the equivalent of Mario Goetze’s goal to take home the marketing trophy are not the sponsors or the unofficials, Adidas or Nike, Coca-Cola or Pepsi, Hyundai or Mercedes or Audi or Visa or Sony or any of the marquee marketers.


Those who’ve dominated cups past and spend years and many millions to leverage the biggest, most electrifying, spectacle in the history of mankind (the Indian General Election comes a close second). The brand champion of FIFA World Cup 2014 is, in fact, Twitter. Because much like Germany it had the best, most dedicated team players in the tournament – @YOU.


Source:The Economic Times

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