The World Cup kicks off on June 12 and is a festival of football that Asia’s passionate fans will doubtless enjoy.
Unfortunately every game kicks off at times between midnight and 6am here in Singapore which is going to mean some very sleepy Singaporean and Asian residents.
Many brands are desperately trying to capture the attention of these passionate fans, both official sponsors and unofficial brands eager to capitalise on the world’s greatest event.
But which is doing the best job?
Singapore’s premier telco and broadcaster SingTel’s Mio Stadium, the primary World Cup broadcaster, will be showing countless repeats throughout the day.
However there is nothing like watching matches either live or at least without knowing the score to experience the same tension and excitement as watching a game without knowing the end result.
Singapore Pools and SingTel will be showing matches live at community venues in Singapore to ensure everyone else will be able to watch the World Cup.
You can of course place a bet on the result at the same time which is about the only way Singapore Pools is allowed to market itself in a country that bans most betting (that isn’t partly or wholly linked in some way to the government) and all marketing of betting brands.
Based on a quick look at the Singapore Pools website that’s probably just as well. It seems to be slightly confused over who has actually qualified for the World Cup and has included both the Irish flag alongside the Brazil and German flags, despite the fact that the former won’t be playing in the tournament.
I have actually been surprised by the lack of football-related activity in Singapore from both the official World Cup brands and guerrilla activity by unofficial brands desperately trying to get some kind of connection to the tournament.
Local super brand F&N has belatedly started doing some football related press adverts but they are bizarre and have little connection between the brand and football.
There seems considerable lack of imagination gone into them too, almost as though someone said: “Shouldn’t we be doing something with this football tournament thing?”
In Hong Kong, Coca-Cola has gone overboard with three creative executions around the theme of “The World’s Cup”, engaging both football fans and non-fans alike.
Consumers have to scan the QR code on a special edition Coca-Cola to take part in three time staggered activities during the round of 16 games. It means that Coke has successfully created a series of engagements that last the duration of the five-week tournament.
Coke’s ambition is for everyone to join in, but it is asking people to buy World Cup themed cans and answer World Cup questions promoted by a football orientated TV advert. This is asking a lot if Coca-Cola thinks anyone bar football fans will be interested.
Coke doesn’t appear to have given Singapore the same focus. Is that because it perceives Singaporean’s to be less passionate football?
This is certainly not the case so this is a bit of a mystery. Outside of Asia, Coke is running the campaign “One World. One Game” to capitalise on being an official sponsor of the tournament.
Coca-Cola is of course the official sponsor and rival Pepsi has gone down a rather arty route to compete.
It has produced a short film for “Unstoppable” – the latest hit from Dutch producer and DJ heavyweight R3HAB, featuring fellow Dutch dance-music sensation Eva Simons – taken from its ’Pepsi Beats of the Beautiful Game’ album.
The song is an anthem celebrating never-ending drive and the talent within.
Some of the unofficial brands have been laugh-out-loud-silly like retailer Giant’s entire football-themed extravaganza of German and Italian bedwear, and some just completely miss the mark such as CapitaMalls’ attempt to capitalise on the tournament through a clumsy spend-linked promotion.
So far there has been minimal activity from leading supermarket retailers Cold Storage and Fair Price, who you would expect to be focused on beer, drink and snack brand promotions along with take away meals and convenience food.
They will be trying to associate themselves with the event by coming up imaginative displays of flags and footballs as they have done previously.
Currently Cold Storage seems more interested in a ‘Sound of Music’ promotion and there is no point of sale even connected to official sponsors like Budweiser and Coke. Budweiser has created special edition “Rise as one” gold World Cup bottles and cans.
I haven’t seen anything that the beer brand is doing specifically in Singapore.
Korean brand Samsung, which used to be a sponsor but clearly didn’t see the value in it, has launched the only campaign that includes both famous adversaries Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo.
The concept is a simple and slightly over the top fantasy game to launch the Samsung Galaxy 11.
It looks more Transformers than Samsung advert and may get lost in the hype around that new film rather than gain cut through in the World Cup.
Samsung also appears to be activating this purely online as a visit to stores in Singapore showed no associated marketing.
Domino’s is doing all it can to associate itself with the World Cup and gain from the fact that in Asia all the games are in the middle of the night and fast food delivery brands are expected to have storming business.
The pizza chain is running a football orientated digital “kick off” game and in Malaysia is giving away an all expenses trip to Brazil.
Dominos wasn’t so brave in Singapore. You can only win the usual iPads and TVs that every brand in Singapore always uses for every promotion going instead, however it does have the rather cheeky strapline of “football season is here”.
As the European football season (which dominates Asian TV viewing and football passions) is finished, that’s a slightly bizarre line to be using to market themselves as a football brand.
Not to be outdone, KFC is betting everything on perhaps the world’s most famous footballer, Christiano Ronaldo, who has become its brand ambassador in countries like Malaysia and Singapore.
The fact that customers may just get confused as to how many brands Ronaldo endorses probably doesn’t matter to the marketing execs in charge.
KFC is using Ronaldo in Asia and the Middle East, even launching a KFC Ronaldo Variety Bucket and Ronaldo Hot Box.
Sun Hung Kai
In Hong Kong, Sun Hung Kai Properties is launching a full-scale campaign across 11 of its shopping malls throughout June and July to capitalise on the tournament.
It’s predicting that the World Cup this year will bring 36.1m visits, up from 24.14m visits for the last World Cup campaign four years ago.
Events include live broadcast of 56 games, themed art installations, exhibitions, pop-up stores, fashion shows, Brazilian Samba dance performances, special designated areas for you to watch the game with your dog, lucky draws, gift redemption schemes, activities with celebrity footballers and a tournament involving a cell phone and a big screen TV.
In China, Harbin Beer is using the fact that it is an official beer sponsor of the tournament to launch a new brand campaign and reconnect beer with watching sporting events.
It’s a multichannel campaign that involves online, offline, in-store and on-pack promotions through the World Cup.
Official beer brand Budweiser (don’t ask, I don’t know what the difference between the two is either) is focusing on global marketing and looking at its core markets to activate its official association.
This includes Budweiser taking over Pestana Rio Atlantica hotel in Rio de Janeiro during the World Cup to offer the ultimate fusion of entertainment and sports, as legendary FIFA World Cup players join in on the action.
The official TV advert is as forgettable as previous attempts and could be from any of the sponsors.
Budweiser has created a microsite for its “Rise as One” campaign that serves as a hub for all video and social content surrounding the event. During the tournament, Budweiser will use Twitter Cards to let fans vote for the FIFA Man of the Match.
The campaign includes two web series that Budweiser has created with Fox Sports and Vice. The Fox Sports content spans 80 countries for a global push, and the Vice video includes a six-part documentary series.
Budweiser has also created special edition “Rise up as one” gold coloured World Cup bottles. I haven’t seen anything that the drinks brand is doing specifically in Singapore or Asia. Interestingly it decided against doing a specific app and focus more on existing social media platforms.
There is always a thin line between official sponsors and unofficial ones trying to get in on the act by association. Coffee shops, fast food delivery brands and TV retailers should be the ones to benefit the most from the World Cup.
McDonald’s is for the first time changing its fries boxes for the World Cup tournament, offering 12 different World-Cup-themed designs featuring work from artists commissioned from around the world.
The boxes will also serve as the entry point for an augmented reality game. However in Singapore they are still running Hello Kitty promotions!
Visa has been one of the most prominent official sponsors to be marketing its association in Singapore, with specific spend and win trips to the tournament promoted for months before the event itself.
Hyundai is at least using the official logo on its facebook page in Singapore, unlike McDonalds Singapore and Castrol Singapore amongst others.
Outside of Asia Hyundai has created a series of interesting if unoriginal ways for fans to engage with the brand and tap into social media at the same time.
The car brand has created a Pinterest style platform to share moments of fans enjoying the World Cup. They also have a shoot and save game and an Octopus Prediction game, both of which have been done many times before by other brands.
Castrol is going all out with creativity and predictive software to capitalise on being an official sponsor. The brand has created an advert in which Brazilian star Neymar takes on gymkhana king Ken Block in his rally car.
The advert has gone viral with some millions of dollars of marketing support.
Castrol is also using pioneering technology and data analysis to rate player performance during the World Cup, just as it would for cars and the relationship with oil. This is a neat way of embedding the brand into conversations around the World Cup.
Castrol is actually an official sponsor but I have seen nothing of its activities in Singapore or Asia. Competitive brand and non-sponsor Caltex on the other hand has launched a Supa Strikers Facebook sponsorship in APAC.
Continental is also an official sponsor but I haven’t seen any relevant marketing activities in Singapore.
Sony has been promoting TVs and its official association with the World Cup through direct mails in Asia.
More innovatively it has also launched a global social network dedicated to the tournament called “One Stadium Live”. It aims to be the ultimate third screen by amalgamating all the content from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ into one stream. It will certainly be crowded.
Sony is promising that fans can connect with others fans across the world, and will also be able to see what the sentiment is through the amalgamated feed of everyone’s thoughts. I hope that the social team has some good editorial control and swear buttons in 100 languages at the ready.
The innovative technology which claims to be able to identify conversations about football (or in fact any subject) and bring the best of the conversation into one feed will be supported by the Sony Newsroom team.
They will focus on the six languages of the 32 nations taking part to bring all the conversations concerning those playing into one space.
This does leave out some of the largest countries in the world who did not qualify such as India, China, Indonesia, Russia to name but four nations. It’s a brave move and has to be applauded for both an investment and innovation point of view.
In Malaysia, official healthcare brand Johnson and Johnson seemed to have done most of its marketing through pre-tournament promotions and roadshows.
Its ‘Road 2 Brazil 2014 Contest’ was unveiled in April in tandem with the launch of the ‘J&J 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Nationwide Roadshow’ which lasted until May.
The platform served to engage and excite football fans as well as to promote wellness amongst Malaysians. However it doesn’t appear to have created many activities for during the tournament itself.
Meanwhile P&G’s Gillette brand has been busy with hijacking the event through its sponsorship of the Brazilian national team. It has created a special yellow and blue set of razors to capitalise on the association while getting around actually sponsoring the tournament itself.
Nike & Adidas
Nike and Adidas have of course been trading star studded adverts which look identical to the previous tournament and will not help consumers in deciding who is actually the official sponsor and who is hijacking the tournament.
Neither have activated it much in Asia apart from having their related football shirts promoted prominently within their retail stores. Spain and Brazil for Nike, Germany and Argentina for Adidas.
Social media giant Tencent, which owns WeChat and QQ, has brought more than 120 journalists, editors and photographers to Brazil. The company has lined up partnerships with sponsors including Nike, Toyota, Budweiser, Head & Shoulders and local beer brand Tsingtao.
Milo has attempted to become associated with the World Cup unofficially by running a promotion to win $10,000 of TigerAir vouchers, illustrated bizarrely by a footballer in a Milo green strip.
No sense to the promotion except to desperately establish a connection to the World Cup in anyway.
Brazilian brand Havaianas is running an interesting unofficial World Cup sales promotion offering a limited edition shoe bag and key chain if you buy their country themed flip flops. The nations concerned just happen to be all those competing in the World Cup in Brazil.