5 Legit Lessons Learned from World Cup Marketing


USA! USA! USA! Across the United States, sports fans are embracing soccer more than ever before. According to the Chicago Tribune, over 20,000 gathered for a downtown viewing of the USA vs. Portugal game. The same match resulted in ESPN’s highest rated telecast ever, attracting 18.22 million viewers. While soccer (or “futbol”) has been traditionally viewed as a global game, this is the first year the sport has become mainstream in the United States. As The Guardian asks, “Is the US finally ready to embrace the global game?”

Of course, the growing fascination with soccer can be largely attributed to a brilliant marketing campaign by the FIFA World Cup. So, with that in mind, what can marketers and small businesses take away from this effective campaign? Here are five lessons to be learned:

Lesson #1: Look at the Big Picture

No matter how large or small your marketing campaign may be, you can (and should) still look at the big picture. This year, ESPN and FIFA really focused their efforts on national pride and patriotism, which resonated with US consumers, resulting in massive viewing parties and unparalleled popularity. While your small business probably doesn’t have the large reach that global names like ESPN and FIFA have, you can still go for the big picture view. This means involving customers in something bigger than just their purchase. If you are a retail store and you give to local causes, help your customers understand where their money is going. If you are a bar or restaurant, consider holding large event nights that bring people together. You get the idea; people want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves.

Lesson #2: Highlight Personal Stories

People like to empathize with other people. Have you tried capitalizing on this by highlighting personal stories? During this year’s World Cup, ESPN and FIFA have played up stories like “Will Ronaldo play?” “Will Suarez bite another player?” “Will X player make his family proud?” etc. While you may not have polarizing figures closely connected to your business, you don’t have to. People will connect with almost any story to which they can relate.

Lesson #3: Remove Barriers

No matter how successful your business may be, you surely have obstacles and barriers to entry. Take FIFA for example. FIFA is incredibly successful and popular throughout the world, but seemingly couldn’t penetrate the US market. They realized there were barriers, worked to remove them, and appear to have found success. How will you remove barriers to entry?

Lesson #4: Segment Your Audience

ESPN and FIFA have done a fantastic job of segmenting their audience and targeting each group with tailor-made advertisements. They know that existing soccer fans are likely to resonate with advertisements and promotions directly related to the game, while non-soccer fans resonate better with patriotism and competition. How can you better segment your marketing efforts?

Lesson #5: People Want Engagement

Viewing parties and mobile apps are a large reason the World Cup is more popular in the US than ever before. People enjoy being able to interact with what they are consuming. With the improvements in technology and the widespread use of the internet, it has never been easier to encourage engagement. Find ways to interact with your customers and you will be surprised at how well they respond.

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