By Julian Steinforth, Expedition PR
The FIFA World Cup 2014 came to an end last Sunday with Germany becoming the World Champion. It was the first time a European team claimed the World Champion title at a game hosted on South American soil. The World Cup set a number of new world records and some of its games made history – not just on the field, but also in social media. More than 350 million people posted 3 billion interactions on Facebook during the World Cup, creating the largest online conversation to date. A total of 35.6 million tweets were sent during the Brazil’s 7-1 defeat by Germany in the semi-finals, making it the most talked about World Cup event. That’s roughly 11 million more tweets than the number of tweets sent during the Super Bowl XLVIII in 2013 (24.9 million tweets); an eye-popping number, for marketers in the US, who are adept at using large entertainment and sports events for marketing purposes but had questioned the size of the US soccer viewership in the past.
The games also attracted a strong TV viewership. According to the Wall Street Journal the game between the US team and Portugal drew a combined audience of 24.7 million viewers between ESPN and Spanish- language Univision. Perhaps it helped that the coach of the US national soccer team Juergen Klinsman had posted an open letter to businesses urging them to let their employees watch the games and support the US team. US soccer fans could download the letter and bring it to the office to ask their bosses to let them watch the US team matches.
US soccer fans were also among the millions of people who cheered on their teams and shared their World Cup moments on social media channels. Here is a quick recap of the most shared and most memorable content:
Team Support – The beginning of the games was all about sharing team support and excitement. People posted picture of themselves in their team’s jersey, painted their face in n
ational colors, put up flags and hosted World Cup parties.
Memes – Memes started being popular during the Olympics and reached new levels at the World Cup semi-finals when the Brazilian team suffered a devastating 7-1 defeat against Germany. Fans shared an endless flow of memes that illustrated the fans reaction to the game – from anxiety to shock to despair to numb incomprehension. “We lost by THIS much,” was the title of a meme that showed the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue above Rio de Janeiro, and sums up pretty well how bad the Brazilian team had gotten defeated.
Selfies – Soccer stars and fans posted selfies of themselves throughout the game, culminating at the finale. Lukas Podolski, the German forward took a selfie shortly after the final whistle. His selfie got retweeted 93 thousand times, not as much as Ellen DeGeneres group selfie at the Oscars but the picture still made it around the world and into the news media.
According to Google 2.1+ billion searches were made related to the tournament. Interesting was that during the World Cup final, searches in Argentina for the Lord’s Prayer were 66x higher than those for the World Cup song. And during the game between Brazil and the Netherlands, Brazilians were searching 2x more for World Cup 2018 than for the Argentina v Germany final.
All those interactions and the buzz prompted marketers to look at soccer in the US more seriously as a branding vehicle.
Our second part of the article will discuss some of the successful marketing campaigns during the World Cup.
Table: Facebook and Twitter Scored At The FIFA World Cup 2014