北京时间 6 月 13 日凌晨 4 点，巴西与克罗地亚的首战标志着 2014 年世界杯大幕的正式拉开。同时，也开启了可能是有史以来规模最大的闪电式营销。据估计，2010 年收看世界杯的观众已达 32 亿，预计今年这一数字将更为庞大，在巴西的确没有比这更重大的比赛了。对于阿迪达斯、索尼、维萨、麦当劳等已经实现全球化的企业而言，投入数百万美元的世界杯赞助费用将为他们带来超值投资回报。但是，真正抓住这一全球盛事契机的企业是可口可乐，他们在激烈的竞争中脱颖而出，已成为市场营销领域的风向标——对于世界各地不同年代的人来说，可口可乐红白相间的 Logo 永远那么易于辨识，无论他们是否真正喜爱这一品牌——但是，国际足球联盟（FIFA）这一广告平台使很多人在不知不觉中成为了可口可乐的新粉丝。
2010年南非世界杯主题曲为朗朗上口的《飘扬的旗帜》（Wavin’ Flag）——这一歌曲最初描述的是歌手克南（K'naan）在索马里饱经战火与贫穷的童年——由可口可乐参与联合推出，被翻译、完全本地化为 24 种语言，并成为可口可乐 3 亿美元广告活动的基础内容；该主题曲先后在 17 个国家成为 iTunes 音乐排行榜的榜首歌曲。2014 年世界杯，他们希望通过《世界由我们主宰》（The World is Ours）这一曲灵感源自巴西传统打击乐的体育赞歌，来续写传奇。此次，我们可以在世界各地听到该主题曲的 32 种语言版本，而且，该主题曲还将与可口可乐的网站活动“同一个世界，同一个比赛（One World, One Game）”结合到一起——这一活动将在 Twitter、Facebook、YouTube 等众多网站展开。可口可乐正是通过运用网络与社交媒体，开展了真正有别于其他品牌的 2014 世界杯营销活动。借助目前普遍存在的移动网络设备，赞助商已经实现品牌知名度与潜在影响力的指数级增长。更高的曝光率意味着广阔的发展机会，但同时也增加了某些重大风险发生的可能性。
一直以来，巴西世界杯备受争议。巴西——Facebook 与 YouTube 的第二大全球市场，是亟需对医疗、教育与运输系统进行全面改革的发展中国家。这也难怪，对于外界传言的 11 亿美元世界杯举办经费，很多巴西人深感不安。他们在社交媒体网络表达不满情绪，并铺陈“2014 世界杯一定程度上显示出政府的铺张浪费与效力丧失”这一观点。而且，反对者还宣称世界杯赞助商成为了他们所谓的腐败政府的间接支持者。精明的赞助商意识到公众对于他们参与世界杯的认识，他们正采取措施向公众展现他们了解赞助所涉及的社会政治状况。可口可乐首席市场官 Joe Tripodi 已经声明他们将柔化营销基调——并且，如果动荡的局面继续扩大，他们将有可能撤销赞助。他表示：“你需要时刻保持思维敏捷，准备多种方案，以应对任何突发状况。”
我们已经迫不及待想收看世界杯的风云变幻，即使我们需要在凌晨 4 点醒来。今年的世界杯是一场属于所有人的游戏，只有表现最佳的团队才能获胜。
The Double-Edged Sword of Marketing the World Cup
On July 13th, the 2014 World Cup kicks off with the first game being between Brazil and Croatia. This day also sets off what may be the largest marketing blitz in history. With an estimated 3.2 billion viewers in 2010 and an even greater audience expected this year, there really is no bigger game in town. For already global companies like Adidas, Sony, Visa, and McDonald’s, the hundreds of millions of dollars that go into becoming a World Cup sponsor pay dividends many times over but, when it comes to really capitalizing on this global event, one corporation stands above the rest: Coca-Cola. They’ve always been an icon in the field of marketing—their red and white logo is instantly recognizable to all generations around the world by both those who love it and those who don’t—but thanks to their partnership with FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) they’ve started generating fans who don’t even know they’re fans.
Leading up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, a catchy tune called Wavin’ Flag—originally about the singer, K’Naan’s childhood experiences of war and poverty in Somalia—was co-opted by Coca-Cola, translated and fully localized into 2 dozen languages, and used as a cornerstone in their $300 million ad campaign; the song went on to become an iTunes #1 hit in 17 different countries. For the 2014 Cup, they’re hoping to recapture some of that magic with The World is Ours, a sports anthem inspired by traditional Brazilian percussion. This time the song will be heard around the world in 32 languages and will be integrated with Coca-Cola’s web campaign – One World, One Game – on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and a host of other sites. It’s this use of the internet and social media that really differentiates the marketing efforts at this year’s games. With the now-widespread use of mobile internet-connected devices, sponsors have exponentially increased their visibility and potential impact. This increased exposure presents plenty of opportunities but also raises some significant risks.
Brazil’s World Cup push has been embroiled in controversy. Brazil—which boasts the world’s 2nd largest market for Facebook and YouTube—is a developing country where the healthcare, education, and transportation systems are in dire need of comprehensive reforms and many Brazilians are understandably upset about the purported 11 billion dollar cost of hosting the Cup. Across social media networks they’ve expressed their dissatisfaction and have pushed the view that the 2014 World Cup is somehow representative of the government’s waste and ineffectiveness. What’s more, protesters have labeled the game’s financial backers tacit supporters of what they say is a corrupt government. The savvier sponsors, acutely aware of public perception of their participation, are taking steps to show ordinary people that they understand the sociopolitical aspects of their sponsorship. Coca-Cola’s Chief Marketing Officer, Joe Tripodi, has stated that the company will soften its tone—and presumably pull back support—if unrest continues to grow. “You always have to be smart and to have all kinds of Plan Bs, Plan Cs and Ds to be ready for any contingency,” he said.
It’s this approach of going all in – while still planning for potential perils – that has turned Coca-Cola into one of the world’s most recognizable brands. While we at CSOFT love football, soccer, futbol (whatever you call it) and hope the World Cup goes off without a hitch, we can’t help but be impressed by not only the athletic ability but also the marketing prowess on display in Brazil. So here are two lessons we’ve learned from both the sport and Coca Cola’s efforts:
First, reach out to the world. The crucial reason that soccer (I’m an American, I’m just going to call it soccer; my apologies to the rest of the football playing world) is so popular is that anybody can play. Whether you are tall or short, old or young, rich or poor, all you need is a little bit of flat ground and a ball to make magic happen. In the same fashion, Coca-Cola has reached around the globe with their marketing efforts, taking upbeat tunes and localizing them in order to appeal to a wide range of linguistically and culturally disparate peoples.
Second, there are times in soccer when a team will abandon their defenses. The majority of the team will rush down the field, aggressively pushing toward the goal with the added advantage of several more players. But this strategy carries great risk; if an opposing defender manages to pass the ball up-field to a teammate, he will have a much easier time scoring, facing a largely unprotected goal. Likewise, Coca-Cola is aggressively pushing their brand through their marketing, despite the risk that this year’s World Cup may become a public relations boondoggle. Luckily, they’ve had the foresight to plan for trouble. Every opportunity is a gamble and often the greater the potential payoff, the greater the potential pitfall. Know when to focus your efforts but keep your marketing strategy flexible and be prepared to counter risks.
We can’t wait to tune in and watch the drama unfold, even if it involves being awake at 4 A.M. This year’s Cup is anyone’s game so may the best team win.