In the summer of 2018 for the first time ever FOX would broadcast the FIFA World Cup – the world's biggest sporting event and an undisputed pop culture phenomenon – taking place in Russia.
The FOX Sports Marketing Team faced a number of challenges in the development of the campaign:
--The U.S. Men's National Team didn't qualify for the tournament for the first time in 28 years. The inability to depend on viewership of the "fringe" fans who would come to watch the USMNT, FOX Sports had to rely on the power and draw of international players and can't-miss super teams.
--Games were played in Russia, which meant they were scheduled for 8:00 AM ET, 11:00 AM ET and 2:00 PM ET in the U.S. This created viewership challenges on weekdays and for early matchups.
But, the team embraced the transformative power of the tournament with it key positioning: The World Becomes The World Cup.
This phrase became the driving force behind the campaign with the objective to drive awareness, intent and tune-in for the FIFA World Cup's new home on FOX (after decades with a competitor), and prevent an anticipated drop in viewership as a result of losing the USMNT from the tournament. Additionally, FOX Sports aimed to capture viewership across ALL platforms.
This also meant attracting a particular demographic: Generated from a general sports fan, core soccer and English-speaking Hispanic audience pool, we targeted young, cosmopolitan, bi-coastal, multi-cultural, communal sports fan with major FOMO across all forms of media.
It was evident, the FIFA World Cup has a connection to all viewers on some level, and every four years, the appeal to transform everyday behavior for an entire month is there. The proposition of being a "transformative event" would carry through all aspects of the marketing campaign and the tournament would become ubiquitous and unavoidable despite the loss of the U.S. Men's National Team. With every consumer touch point the ordinary would become a vehicle for World Cup coverage. The World would Become The World Cup.
The campaign was set to target an audience generated from a general sports fan, core soccer and English-speaking Hispanic audience pool consisting of the following attributes: young, cosmopolitan, bi-coastal, multi-cultural, digital/mobile-oriented, communal sports fan with major FOMO across all forms of media.
There were key passion points to tap in order to attract the core soccer fan while drawing in the general sports fan: player adulation, nationalism, video gaming, team/club fandom and communal nature of the sport/fans.
Our strategy focused on five key areas:
-Super Stars (i.e. Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar)
-Super Nations (Brazil, Germany, France, etc.)
-Behavior (Daytime Becomes Primetime)
-Plan B (Root for your Roots) for Patriotism
-Event Sensationalism (The Biggest [can't miss] Event on Earth)
The campaign rolled out nationally with focus on six key DMAs: New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Houston, Dallas, Chicago.
"The World Becomes the World Cup" theme came to life through several components. A month-long marketing mix consisted of on-air promos, cross-divisional support, digital media, custom digital content, radio, OOH advertising, off-channel partnerships, cross-divisional synergy and experiential activations to make up the biggest campaign in FOX Sports history. More specifically:
--The NFC Championship game broadcast to 50 Million viewers became a platform to tease the event and the theme.
--At SXSW, a local bar became a multi-media, 'instagrammable' epicenter for the celebration of all things soccer and a foreshadowing of the tournament.
--The on-air campaign prompted a 100-day countdown with spots focused on star players and super teams, and introduced the concept that "Daytime would become Primetime".
--In six markets, an outdoor campaign went live with a mix of billboards, bus shelter takeovers, live games in Times Square and the Port Authority and digital outdoor boards providing real-time scores and highlights.
--A DNA Ancestry kit became a way for fans to align with a team through what was by far the most significant FOX Sports off channel partnership with 23andMe: the campaign "Root For Your Roots". Over 250 FOX station talent participated with on-air and social reveals of test results / team alliances.
--Custom content developed with WSJ, USA Today, Thrillist & more transformed digital media partners into resources for tournament information.
--A custom Snapchat Lens became a conduit for fans to outfit themselves in team kits and be inside Russian stadiums with the WC trophy.
--Branded entertainment integrations across 21CF rolled out in NatGeo's Big Tuna, FXX's Simpson's Marathon Night, The Four and Masterchef.
--In an unprecedented radio campaign, morning DJs read live scores and prompted listeners to tune in.
--The FOX Sports App and FOX NOW streamed every game making the coverage available on morning commutes and at work.
--A stunt took 3 look-a-like star players (Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar) to live events including Yankee games and the Washington Nationals championship parade, spurned social buzz.
The biggest integrated marketing campaign in FOX Sports history was comprehensive and captivating, helping existing and new fans celebrate the transformation of the world around a 30-day event.
The "The World becomes The World Cup" campaign addressed all three segments of viewers from the core soccer fan, to the casual sports fan to the FOMO viewer – each were met with messaging that both educated and celebrated the star players and the legacy of the super teams. Each unpredictable moment was highlighted using dynamic advertising and programs across digital, linear and off-air platforms to keep fans engaged and informed.
The tournament was a zeitgeist moment created by the culturally inclusive nature of sport and the pervasive messaging of the campaign that tapped into the several passion points identified early on in development that connected to fans, existing and new.
FOX Sports established itself as the new home of World Cup coverage and held the anticipated viewership despite a prediction of a 24% drop after the U.S. Men's team disqualification. Some highlights are:
--Most-watched Quarterfinal since 1990 – Croatia vs. Russia – 6,386,000 viewers
--Most-watched Group Stage match in history (English language) – Germany vs. Sweden – 5,454,000 viewers
--Most-streamed FIFA World Cup Croatia-England Semifinal - an average 830,000 viewers; Also setting a new FOX Sports record for the top authenticated streaming event ever!
Additionally, the FOX Sports Marketing Paid Media Campaign generated 705 MM impressions.
Our fully integrated paid media campaign ran the gamut cross-platform resonating with our target audience, generating engagement at key hours to drive interest, all while providing audiences with the out of home and online exposure necessary to increase generate viewership.
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