Let’s look at some early acitivty…
The slightly uninspiring
Would Sir Alex Ferguson have appeared in an advert for iced tea? Those were different days.
Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s presumptive manager at time of writing, appeared for Lipton in April 2016 and the ad is set to be revamped for EURO 2016.
This ad truly represents the template for an international campaign based on a one-take celebrity appearance.
The ‘Meet Europe’s Best’ campaign includes TV commercials, plane liveries, ticket giveaways and a microsite. Turkish Airlines will also show matches on some of its planes and have sites in host cities.
Focusing on the digital side of the campaign, the strategy is fairly bulletproof – use a ticket giveaway as an incentive to boost social media exposure and data capture (via competition entries on the microsite).
Though as an official sponsor the brand will surely see massive uplift and run a successful campaign, some of the execution is slightly poor.
Look at the microsite below – the tweeted entries to the competition (via the hashtag #europesbest) are embedded poorly, with no media on display (users have to click to view).
This makes the page – designed to ally supporter passion with brand image – completely boring.
The microsite also hosts the short TV spots, which are no doubt running as bookends. I’ve embedded one below and, as you’ll no doubt agree, they are in-keeping with the average commercial bookend (so bad they’re almost good).
Kia & The Telegraph
Kia is an official sponsor of Euro 2016 (alongside sister brand Hyundai) but its pre-tournament activity has been fairly broad already.
I’m being a little harsh including Kia in this section for its tie-up with The Telegraph. There’s lots to like.
A Telegraph journo is travelling to Paris in a Kia Sportage, recording a daily video diary over the course of a month. Footballers are being interviewed about their predictions for the tournament… in Kia Sportages at Kia dealerships.
But the reason I’ve included Kia and The Telegraph is for the David James Challenge, pictured below.
Playing this game, complete with cringe-inducing commentary from James, allows users to enter a competition to win a Sportage, and provides plenty of data to Kia.
I’ve no doubt it will entice many (I played twice, but didn’t enter) and I know that a desktop game makes sense (43% of Brits use laptop or desktop to watch streaming services) but it’s such a hackneyed concept with such cheesy commentary that I had to include it in the uninspiring section.
One thing’s for sure, Kia will get noticed on The Telegraph website.
Puma is up against official sponsor Adidas and the two boot makers, rivals for many years, are vying to get their footwear the most attention during the tournament.
As Nike can testify, it’s not always the official sponsors that get most value from a tournament year, so Puma has high hopes.
However, though Puma’s big TV ad features French stars Giroud and Griezmann, it’s a very derivative commercial, inspired, as so many have been, by the classic Nike mission ad.
Though as an ad it does the job, the brand hashtag (#choosetricks) isn’t massively inspiring either.
Adidas, as we’ll see below, has bigger stars and what I think is a much more subtle and innovative football ad.
The more promising
This is experiential marketing on a huge scale, with a competition and some new tech thrown in for good measure.
The 45,000 capacity Hyundai FanDome in London will include a 360-degree audio-visual experience that reacts to game events in real-time.
Giant screens surrounding the dome create what Hyundai calls #footballheaven.
It’s free for fans to attend, though tickets must be applied for through a microsite, and Euro 2016 final tickets can be won by those that signup.
The event and the hashtag play perfectly to the market of football fans and I can see the brand creating lots of content throughout the tournament.
The only bum note is ‘former Wales international player Vinnie Jones, who will inject his own unique style and personality into the experience’.
However, given Wales’ presence in the Euros, perhaps this can be forgiven.
Can’t make it to #EURO2016? That’s ok, get to #footballheaven at the Hyundai FanDome https://t.co/HAMbfnS3lt pic.twitter.com/UJqTte9Uf1
— Hyundai Motor UK (@Hyundai_UK) May 19, 2016
Adidas’ boots ad bests the Puma attempt above. The creative focuses on football skills, which are shot in a very real setting (a five-a-side pitch) and include no bells and whistles.
This approach allows the personality of the players (Suarez, Pogba, Ozil) to come to the fore, something made more personal by the inclusion of the players’ style off the pitch (featuring dance moves and general swagger).
The whole thing is tied together by an enthusiastic football fan, filmed in front of his gaff. It feels much more ‘2016’, suited to social media and directed at the viewer.
There is no doubt much more to come from Adidias in the tournament, but this boots ad represents a great start.
Imagine always being first. #FirstNeverFollowshttps://t.co/MfKYCPXe7k
— adidasfootball (@adidasfootball) May 20, 2016
I haven’t been blown away by Carlsberg’s activity so far, but the tone has been very well pitched.
As Marketing Week reported, the beer brand is aiming for broad appeal, not just the ‘banter’ market.
Richard Whitty, senior marketing manager of football at Carlsberg, said the following:
[EURO 2016] offers us a broad opportunity to talk to just about everyone and we want to use that to show lad culture is not something we are about.
We have to move beyond it and the brand is now about being intelligent, clever and appealing to the widest audience possible. Female drinkers are very important for us.
Commercials so far have centred on ‘If Carlsberg did substitutions’ and they have been positive and rewarding (see Chris Kamara giving away free tickets below).
Carlsberg will allow football fans to vote for the official Man of the Match award for every game via social media. This is a first and will guarantee big engagement for the brand.
The usual gamut of prizes and opportunities for fans are on offer, too.
Overall, Carlsberg has done a lot right over the past couple of years and has transitioned into a beer brand that is defiantly about beer but is nonetheless inclusive and not puerile.
With plenty of the big brands yet to debut their commercials and the social activity yet to kick off in earnest, there’s a lot to play for.
We’ll revisit the various official sponsors (and gatecrasher brands) during the tournament and see who is making hay.
My own hope is that success will be found by those brands moving away from the old tournament model and trying to better personalise their activity through the lens of the fan.