We were so excited. Chilean football has changed radically over the last few years. International matches have gone from being a source of anticipated disappointment to generating enormous expectations. According to us, Chilean football had become much more competitive, and most of all, our footballers (like us) no longer cowered before the Brazilians, Argentineans or any other team. We were out to win our games against any rival, and we were no longer looking for the “least dismal” result.
This new charisma in Chilen football made us ambitious and confident. Five months before the World Cup, 75% of Chileans believed our team would at least make it through the first round, and 10% even thought they’d make it to the final round. The majority felt Chile would do well or very well1.
We all prepared for the World Cup. Unlike 2010, this time it would happen in Brazil so we’d get to see the matches at reasonable hours and celebrate afterwards. Most of all, the possibility of being there in person was greater. Tens of thousands of Chileans traveled to Brazil; many by land. As matches were scheduled during the working day, factories, offices, parliament and even jails organized giant screens, food, drink, t-shirts, hats, balloons and horns. Watching the match at work was a party event in Chile.
Brands momentarily forgot about economic deceleration, and the month of May registered an increase in investment of 6.7%, in the middle of a significant decline.
What did the brands do around the World Cup?
They almost all did what they always do:
- bought sponsorships
- hired footballers, coaches, announcers and former footballers as faces for their communications
- offered promotional prizes such as trips to the World Cup, TVs, t-shirts and footballs
- ran public relations campaigns to show the press how their employees celebrated the World Cup.
The big objective for everyone was to be the brand associated with the festivities which trusted that our team (we) would do well, or very well. So, which brands achieved this objective and what did they do differently? With data from two of the highest spending categories in Chile, telecommunications and banks, we can hypothesize that the most successful brands all did nearly the same thing as the others, but better.
Telecoms comes out on top
Only telecommunications came out as a clear winner – bank brands showed a mediocre performance in their World Cup communications. Interestingly, the telecommunications brand that wasn’t official sponsor of the Chilean team (which is the equivalent of being the World Cup sponsor on a local level) was top of its game. What did it do? Besides hiring the best known and loved Chilean footballer, we think it did two things well:
- It offered free service to cell phone subscribers whereby they could see the games live and get all the World Cup news. That is, it associated experience of the brand directly with the event.
- It anchored its communication on an important insight about consumers and packaged it in an attractive term: “World Cup mode”. During the tournament, people are in a different mood: more sociable, expressive, and less stressed, engaging in World Cup conversation and moments watching and celebrating matches. We set aside our daily concerns to see, talk about and experience the World Cup and go into “World Cup mode.”
What were the achievements?
Communication was visible and branded, generated appeal, and the term “World Cup mode” became part of consumers’ language.
What happened with brands that didn’t do well? The same thing as always: high spend in media, little differentiation, forgettable advertising and most of all, weak branding.
So what did we learn? Buying sponsorships, hiring faces, and running related promotions isn’t enough to achieve good communication around an event. We also need to try to do it right – that is, find a powerful insight, reflect it in a creative idea, and execute the communication well.
And what happened with our team?
We lost in the second round to Brazil, during penalties. But it was the best performance by a Chilean team since 1962 when we were in third place at the World Cup played in Chile. And there’s always next time.
1 Source: GFK Adimark