By Barry Janoff
July 28, 2014: Soccer is called the "world's game."
It also generates big business worldwide.
Coming off the recently concluded 2014 World Cup, overseeing body FIFA is expected to generate $4 billion in revenue for the event, some $1.4 billion of which will come via sponsorship revenue from 22 companies designated as FIFA global, World Cup global or World Cup regional partners.
FIFA's six global partners — adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai-Kia Motors, Emirates, Sony and Visa — combined to spend an estimated $730 million for worldwide marketing rights in 2014, according to industry analysts.
How much of an impact did advertising make?
Automotive companies that advertised during the World Cup "experienced twice as much growth in consumer interest for new cars on KBB.com compared to automakers that did not advertise during the event," according to vehicle valuation and information source Kelley Blue Book.
Four car brands led the pack when it came to the percent increase of KBB.com new car searches during the World Cup. Official FIFA partner Kia was up 18%, which tied with Volkswagen for the lead. They were followed by FIFA partner (and Kia sibling) Hyundai at 14% and Nissan at 12%.
Other companies that ran either national or local campaigns during the World Cup included Audi, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Ford.
Kelley said that the greatest traffic surge occurred the week the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team competed against Portugal (a tie) and Germany (a loss), as "many Americans tuned in to the high-profile games."
Kelley said that the percent increase of the automaker's new-car searches on KBB.com were taken from numbers during the third week of the World Cup (June 22-28) compared to the second week of the World Cup (June 15-21).
Kelley did not report how the new car searches translated into actual sales.
Volkswagen's consumer interest "likely surged because the German manufacturer benefits from its large following among soccer fans," according to Kelley. The German National Team won the World Cup, also adding credence to VW's presence.
Hyundai and Kia fared much better with Kelley than in a survey of World Cup fans conducted by research and marketing firm YouGov. Overall, 36% of Americans correctly identified at least one official sponsor for the World Cup. according to a July YouGov study of U.S. consumers and fans.
Among the least-recognized: Sony (9%), Emirates (7%), Hyundai-Kia (6% and 5%, respectively), Johnson & Johnson (6%) and Castrol (4%).
When asked which brands they thought were official sponsors of the FIFA World Cup, people most often — and correctly — recognized Coca-Cola (21%), McDonald's (19%), adidas (16%) and Visa (16%).
The consumers were there. More than 26 million people in the U.S. watched the final game on ABC, according to domestic broadcast partners ESPN, with the average viewership throughout the event 4.6 million.
Kia unveiled four TV spots in conjunction with the World Cup, three of which starred Brazilian model Adriana Lima. The effort, which supported Sorento and Optima, saw Lime go to high school athletic fields (Lesson), sports bars and man caves to encourage people that, for one month, they all become fans of soccer.
Kelley said that Kia "experienced a similar traffic surge on KBB.com" when Lima starred in the automaker's commercial that aired during Super Bowl XLVI in 2012.
Hyundai promoted its 2015 Sonata with a "complete 360˚ integrated marketing platform that celebrates fan passion," anchored by two TV spots. In "Boom," Hyundai explains why there might be a baby boom nine months after the World Cup. "Avoidance" sees a man driving in his Sonata from work to home, going to great lengths to avoid hearing the outcome of a World Cup match that he has recorded. Unfortunately, when he walks into his home, his young daughter yells, "Daddy, we won!"
"By creating entertaining, soccer-specific ads, Kia, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Nissan successfully generated interest around their brand and models."
Volkswagen's effort featured a spot starring iconic soccer sportscaster Andrés Cantor in a Golf GTi being driven by his son, as well as an eight-episode series about soccer that ran on various Web sites and platforms in conjunction with Microsoft
Nissan ran a multi-language campaign, led by a TV spot, "Face Off," in which ann array of the automaker's brand converge on a soccer field, where they are greeted by a multitude of fans from around the world.
"By creating entertaining, soccer-specific commercials, World Cup automotive advertisers Kia, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Nissan successfully generated interest around their brand and models, driving consumer research activity on KBB.com," Arthur Henry, analyst for Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com, said in a statement. "Each advertiser also highlighted elements of the game that were relatable to the casual American soccer fan."
Other global FIFA partners include adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Sony and Visa.
Kia Runs A Model World Cup Campaign
Hyundai En Route To World Cup In Brazil
FIFA Partners See Good, Bad, Ugly Of Cup Marketing
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