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Cutting through World Cup clutter

World cup 2014, brazil, soccer, fifaWith the soccer World Cup kicking off in Brazil on Friday (June 13), shoppers can expect to see a plethora of World Cup related marketing and campaigns vying for attention and shelf space.

But does tying you brand or product to an event such as the World Cup really increase brand awareness or boost sales?

According to Norrelle Goldring, head of shopper insight and retail strategy at GfK, using an event to hang a campaign on can provide extra visibility outside usual promotional calendar slotting, but the downside is you’re likely one of many doing the same thing.

As a result, during events like World Cup or the Olympics, there’s a lot of white noise and clutter to cut through.

While a World Cup themed product or promotion is practically expected of large multi-national brands such as McDonald’s, smaller local brands may trip themselves up in trying to cash in on the hype.

Remaining relevant is the best way to ensure success for a World Cup or other event related campaign or promotion.

“Some categories will work better than others,” says Goldring. “Either relate your promotion to the place the event is happening, the occasions around the event, or the occasions surrounding the spectating of the event,” she says.

An example of this is Australia’s annual football finals.

“Collectively Australians basically spend September celebrating blokes drinking beer on the couch, irrespective of football code they’re watching. June and July will be the same for the World Cup, a mini-boon for the on-premise and off-premise as people gather in pubs and each others’ houses to glue themselves to oversize screens,” said Goldring.

“There are spectating occasion opportunities for food and beverage categories, for instance,  to have mates over to watch the World Cup. It’s harder if you’re a non-related category like petcare or gardening.”

Sports equipment and apparel brands also have a major opportunity to promote their brands throughout the event, as do sponsors, such as McDonald’s, or brands that support the Socceroos.

So what can brands expect from a promotion?

Most will see a short term sales jag, results depend largely on the expectations and objectives of a campaign. Most retailers will look to increase store traffic, with promotions to get shoppers to trade up in order to receive a bonus or go into the running for a prize.

Despite increases in sales, Goldring says promotions are not of much help if they only serve to pull forward a sale or stock consumers’ pantries.

“It’s harder to get increases in frequency, and harder still  to launch a new product with lots of other promotional noise happening. This comes back to the principles of shopper marketing and beginning with the end – retail objective, shopper objective – in mind.

“The objective doesn’t just have to be transaction though, it could be shopper participation. World Cup and other sporting events lend themselves well to games and gamification to increase shopper interaction, whether for hard or soft currency.”

Particupation-based promotions encouraging consumers to post about the brand on social media are also useful for event marketing.

When it comes down to it, the World Cup is really just another occasion, no different to Christmas or Easter.

“It comes back to relevance and cut through. Anything offering trips to Brazil as a prize is unlikely to cut through because it’s obvious and everyone will be doing it. The trick is to figure out what the zag is if everyone else is zigging,” advises Goldring.

Goldring’s top three elements for a successful World Cup campaign are not that different to the fundamental priniciples of shopper marketing, except that the need to cut through noise is even greater.

1.Be in a relevant category and call out strongly the link between your category and the event.

2. Talk to a relevant occasion (spectating or participating).

3. Understand which retail objective is going to be best met with the event and build a mechanic around that in a way that is out of the box in its thinking.

Some Australian World Cup related shopper marketing campaigns:

IGA has partnered with Socceroo, John Aloisi, to launch one of its biggest campaigns for 2014, IGA Future Soccer Stars, which will give 2,500 youth soccer clubs around the country the opportunity to win a share of $150,000 in club grants. will give $1 million for anyone who can successfully predict the results of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Through a partnership with Adidas, Powerade has launched a new Mandarin flavour, Powerade Brazilian Kick,  decaled with the 2014 FIFA World Cup Adidas brazuca ball design on pack. Soccer fans can also win a Powerade FIFA World Cup sports bottle through an on pack promotion.

McDonald’s has launched a range of World Cup inspired burger, drink, and dessert products to be sold during the World Cup, with each country themed burger to available one day a week. Burgers include the McBrazil, McArgentina, McSpain, McFrance, McGermany, McItaly, and McUSA.

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