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World Cup 2010: As viewers go online, so do ad dollars

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Carlos Barria/Reuters

(Read caption) Uruguay's players jump to block a free kick from France's Thierry Henry during their 2010 World Cup soccer match in Cape Town on June 11. World Cup advertisers are hoping to reach broader US markets by going online.

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As the US men’s national soccer team battles out its first World Cup 2010 game Saturday against England, advertisers hope that Americans will get as wrapped up in the game - and the Cup - as the rest of the world.

Companies have invested heavily in ad campaigns for the month-long tournament, after all, and this year they’re trying to reach broader US markets.

“The World Cup and soccer has, in many companies’ minds, been a Hispanic marketing play [in the US],” says John Guppy, owner of the Chicago-based firm Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing. “Companies are looking beyond the Hispanic market this year. It’s probably the first time this has been a trend with direct corporate investment.”

They're doing that by going where Americans are: the Internet.

This year people will be able to watch live streaming video of World Cup matches for free on espn3.com. They'll be tweeting about the results, and checking the stats on their favorite players on all World Cup all the time websites like goal.com.

And companies are launching "some the most intense efforts to drive engagement online we’ve seen" in response, said Mr. Guppy.

So what are advertisers doing to capitalize on the most digital World Cup in history?

  • Sony has launched its very own “Twitter Cup,” where national teams compete in a virtual tournament based on how many tweets their teams receive.
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  • Castrol, the lubricant manufacturer, has developed a “Castrol performance index” to rate players based on how well they play during the tournament. The company’s World Cup site also allows visitors to follow teams and post their top 10 players.
  • Nike’s epic 3-minute World Cup ad “Write the Future” had racked up more than 14 million views on YouTube before the tournament even began.
  • Budweiser’s “Bud House” is an online reality show, with 32 people (one from each country in the tournament) living together during the Cup. They are kicked out of the house as their nationals teams are disqualified. Visitors must be 21 years old to enter the site.

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