This year’s biggest event + key marketing learnings you don’t want to miss

This year’s biggest event + key marketing learnings you don’t want to miss

The World Cup may have ended, and your favorite team may have rocked it or may have lost due to bad luck (possibly the VAR). Regardless, key learnings continue, and now that everything has settled, let’s get down with the analysis. We broke down the key learnings into 3 marketing areas: Advertising, Sponsorships, and Social Media. 

First, to sum it all up: The Grand Key Learning—Don’t just target the market, be part of it. Read on and scroll below to see how this applies, and if you’re new, what this means for you.


Video Adverts

Millions of views, world engagement, and why advertisers are spending the big bucks on video adverts and how. Video is expected to see the fastest growth, with mobile projected to be the highest in the online advertising market by 2020 (Business Insider, 2017). Video yields beyond what words can describe—here is a projected growth of the average time spent watching videos by year.



Now, you get the idea of statistics and the demand of adverts, so let's talk about how you make your videos worth every dime. Here are some key examples:

Beats by Dr. Dre – Made Defiant

With 17.3 million views, this advert opened the World Cup with defiance. How? Aside from the usual formula of incorporating mega football stars and product placement, the advert is an engaging mini film beyond selling headphones. The escalating, fast-moving story centers around a boy (the underdog) who aspires and dares to do something great, to be a rebel.

Key Learning: Story-telling through relative tone of voice

What and why is it important?  Tone of voice in marketing is part of the personality and expression of product, service, organization, and /or brand—it brings these to life and make them relatable. It’s key in branding and keeps consistency in your communication—it’s how your audience perceives and understands you. In the end it defines your entire brand image.

Made Defiant and usage of tone of voice—Sporting a star-studded cast of footballers is a no brainer for a World Cup advert, but the challenge is the capability to weave one relatable story from sets of separate stories. Solution: Guy Ritchie, director and film maker of dark comedy, heroes and raw story-telling. The director gave the tone of voice of Beats –rebel, daring, out of ordinary, cool, and defiant targeting the young aspirers. A winning example of bringing in the additional formula, tone of voice, to bring a football campaign alive from the saturation of adverts. Defiantly differentiating itself from the rest.

When your time comes, you have two choices. You can be the kid no one's heard of. Or you can be the kid no one saw coming. This is the Defiant Mixtape, Vol. I. (Source: Beats by Dre YouTube)

Adidas –Create the Answer

If there was an advert so star-studded, it would be the grand firework finale, this is it. With 3.4 million views, this 90-second advert is so tightly packed with stars across sports and entertainment industries, that if you blink your eyes for a second, you would have already have missed a few big names.

Key Learning: Fusion of different sectors across various industries aligned to target relevant audience groups to create the big bang.  

The key takeaway is not the usage of super stars, but it’s what you do with the stars—content creation with the stars. Although this heavily featured world football players, Adidas clearly used the big event of the year to reach beyond football fans and gauge interests and psychographics around the world to spread their brand image as cool, creative, innovative, bold, stylish, and inspirational. With the theme of creativity leading the way, sports and arts fused together to appeal to a wider audience.

The core of the World Cup is that it’s a global event with inclusivity, and it’s been a norm to show various countries and their players and cultures; however, to show beyond one sector in a sport has been a rare sight, and Adidas clearly played by the rules and more for this advert. If you’re looking to expand your consumer base, beyond geographic and demographic, look into fusing with or adding on another sector that relates to your brand.

See what happens when an unexpected group of creators unite to prove that creativity is the answer. Inspire a new wave. Shape your own reality. Unite what's divided. Join us. Take the mic and create the answer. (Source: Adidas YouTube)



Here are the name drops according to the advert by sector:

  • Football / Soccer : “Leo Messi, Mo Salah, Paul Pogba, Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Javier Hernandez, Dele Alli, Bernardo Silva, Mesut Ozil, Luis Suarez, Jesse Lingard, David De Gea, Son Heung Min, Shinji Kagawa, Lindsey Horan, Melissa Lawley, Ellen White, Mille Bright, Florencia Galarza, Ellyse Perry

  • Sports celebrities: David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Mourinho, and Karlie Kloss

  • Superstars (art & entertainment): Lu Han, Eddie Peng, Fan BingBing, Dok2, Sean, Yury Dud

  • NFL: Von Miller

  • Tennis: Caroline Wozniacki

  • NBA: Damian Lillard

  • Baseball: Aaron Judge and Justin Turner

  • Skateboard: Nora Vasconcellos

  • Street footballers and freestylers: Billy Wongrove (F2), Jeremy Lynch (F2), Caitlyn Schrepfer, Melody Donchet (S3), Hani (S3), Trafalgar (S3), Sean Garnier (S3), Jack Downer (Tango), Jeremy Kikeba (Tango), Naoui Ahamada (Tango), Simo Jephte (Tango), Scott Penders;

  • MC’s : Pharrell Williams, A$AP Ferg, Eason Chan, Stormzy, Kehlani and Suchmos.”



Key Learning:  To win the spotlight, take a problem or controversial point and turn it into a solution. Here’s how:

With major brands sporting gears and accessories on influential players, the classic sponsorships, naturally, comes in the form wearables by the players. The two big sponsors leading this over the decades have continuously been Nike and Adidas. However, beyond the obvious here, we decided to look at two other major sponsors who stood out and were winners for every match.

Jupiler, the Belgian budget-friendly, for-everyone, low-cost beer, shared Belgian national flags with fans around the country, branded with their logo in the center, and accompanied by a full campaign surrounded by #WEAREBELGIUM. It’s quite rare to brand the national flag itself with a product in other parts of the world due to regulations, but when allowed, a clever and unique way to align a brand image via a national vehicle, which draws strong emotions. So, why did this campaign work? Belgium is a nation with three official languages, two divided regions, and a national football team, titled “Golden Generation,”—carrying the nation’s hope on its back. Hence, it was a challenge to define one consistent message—ironically that was the exact answer in Jupiler’s message: ONE. The campaign focused around unity with one confident, strong message #WEAREBELGIUM. During the World Cup, Jupiler-branded flags were wrapped around hundreds of fans in the streets to flying from residents’ homes. It certainly won the hearts of Belgians, and in some way, contributed to social responsibility of the nation.

Als één man achter de Rode Duivels #WEAREBELGIUM Tous unis derrière les Diables Rouges #WEAREBELGIUM (Source: jupilerTV)

Hyundai - Be there with Hyundai (2 key learnings)

Key Learning #1: Engaging fans by making them the content creators (a.k.a User Generated Content).

As a main sponsor, Hyundai took its primary possession to heightened levels. What more should a main sponsor do beyond sticking their logo on banners and main headers of World Cup 2018 ads? Well, here are a few of what Hyundai did :

First, they held a contest where fans and audience members can nominate a slogan for the national team—these would be written across the Hyundai FIFA busses for each national team. Thirty-two slogans would be announced, and those who submitted the winning slogan would win a trip to Russia. By engaging fans and making them the content creators, fans around the world creatively ideated slogans based on their perception of their national team and nation. Hyundai made a perfect use of UGC (User Generated Content) by allowing fans and residents to help brand and communicate their nation’s identity—in fact, it’s pretty logical for a World Cup campaign.

Here are the following slogans:

(Source:   )


  • Australia: Be Brave, Be Bold, Socceroos In Green And Gold.

  • Brazil: More Than 5 Stars, 200 Million Hearts.

  • France: Your Strength, Our Passion! Come On Les Bleus!

  • Colombia: Here Goes 1 Dream, 3 Colors And 50 Million Hearts

  • Croatia: Small Country, Big Dreams

  • Belgium: Red Devils On A Mission.

  • Switzerland: Four Languages, One Nation

Note: Not everything has to be created by you as the brand, product, service or organization. If you have a fan base, dedicated audience and followers, allow them to help you and be part of the content creation—make it a community process. Note to self: Use with caution. Do not allow your brand or image to be diluted with inappropriate or ill-fitting messages and give control to something that can’t really go out of control like this one.

Key Learning #2: Hyundai - Be Part of the Experience & Build a Community



Hyundai made sure that fans could be here and there, anywhere with Hyundai, and that Hyundai would be with fans during every touch point of the World Cup 2018.

World cup image 2.jpg

Community Gathering: Since 2002, Hyundai hosted large Fan Parks around the world to unite people everywhere, from the nearby streets, cities, and districts to cheer together. Dedicated to main cities, Hyundai displayed their new and recent cars next to the world’s largest screens as the one seen in Antwerp, Belgium.

Online Platform: Additionally, an online platform called, Hyundai Cheering Stadium, launched in 2018, where users could record and submit their cheers during the match of their national teams. In turn, randomly chosen contributors would be win online gift cards.



Social Media

Key Learning: Expand, Strengthen and Rebrand Through Consistent Influencer Marketing.

Two things first. 1.) Players are mega influencers in the World Cup 2.) Influencer marketing isn’t the big news here. The big news is the result of utilization of influencer marketing through direct connections with audience members and followers, and how it can alter, shift, adjust, and direct your brand image in a new and stronger direction.

Belgium strengthened and expanded their brand power of the Red Devils (the name of the national Belgian football team) with #RedTogether (official hashtag of the team) and #WEAREBELGIUM (hashtag by national sponsor, Jupiler). Both hashtags refer to the unity and community of Belgium—to ignite the red fire to the greater audience members who haven’t yet jumped on the Belgian football bandwagon, as well as those who have but can now feel even more confident to support the World Cup.

(Source: Twitter)

(Source: Twitter)

(Source: Instagram)

(Source: Instagram)

(Source: Instagram)

(Source: Instagram)

England rebranded and revived the brand of Three Lions (the name of the national English football team).  This hashtag reached such a height that this article was even published, 'It's Coming Home' -- How England is winning the social media World Cup by CNN sport.

With memes and whimsical references, it refers to the Three Lions’ song, “England is in the origin of modern day football.” While many disputed over the meaning and conception of this phrase, ‘It’s coming home,’ refers to the confidence of English fans that believed England would potentially defy the past losses and may even have the chance to win the World Cup 2018. The influencers went on full play:

Key Learning: By using players as influencers, it was more than a football game—it was about the nation being one in the eyes of the world. Players posted their first-person experience, voiced with ranges of emotions, with consistency of #s and theme of “we are moving forward, keep going, and keep fighting.”  Also, appealing was the theme of gratitude from these influencers—thanking their fans (their followers and audience), such a direct call-out is bound to move hearts.

Grand Key Learning: Don’t just target your market, be part of it.

Get to know and understand your consumers and customers before choosing platforms, messages, influencers, and diving in head first with tactical implementations. Strategic Marketing is beyond consulting a strategy relevant for your product, service, organization, or brand. Strategic marketing is about developing smart ideas and clever strategies for sustainable growth of your product, service, brand, and organization. At STRAREX, we support you in collecting the necessary data, developing a fitting strategy and selecting the right tactics. By developing tools to help simplify and curate strategic analysis, we ensure the successes of your organization. No-Nonsense, no-frills, we work together with you for sustainable maintenance and growth. Want to know a little more about us? Join us here! 

Author & Editor-in-Chief: Diana Lee

Contributing Author and Researcher: Axelle Holemans

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