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World Cup advertisers hitting the back of the net

5th Jul 18 3:15 pm

Check out the winners and losers

World Cup advertisements from Visa, Mars and Lidl are the biggest hits with viewers, according to research from Kantar Millward Brown. Using its AdExpress tool, it assessed how this tournament’s crop of ads is performing, by measuring consumers’ reactions across 12 different dimensions. These included the seven critical factors that have been proved to motivate people to buy, and build a strong brand in the long-term: Enjoyment, Involvement, Branding (meaning people will realise what the ad is for), Relevance, Difference, Persuasion and Brand Love. The research also included facial coding, which measures consumers’ emotional responses by their facial expressions. 

Ads from Lidl, Mars and Visa were the best performers. Consumers scored Visa’s Don’t miss a goal and Mars’s Sweetstake well above the norm on 6 of the 7 critical factors and Lidl’s Dream Big on 4 of the 7. Also doing well are Coca-Cola’s Stock Up, LG’s Live the Game and Pringles’ Pringooals.

Anticipated big winners Adidas and Nike, however, were among the lowest performers, alongside Beats. They did not manage to forge a connection with UK consumers, largely because they failed to tell a good story or make a meaningful point. 

The results highlight that advertisers have mainly opted to use the World Cup as a brand building opportunity, rather than just shooting for a temporary boost in sales. The 12 ads researched tend to be much stronger on measures related to brand building, such as Involvement (engaging people actively in a positive way) and Brand love, rather than attempts to persuade people to buy. However, some of the strongest performing ads have also found ways to use the World Cup to communicate product messages, and the results clearly show that blockbuster ad formats are no guarantee of making a connection.

The highest scoring ads have three things in common, indicating what makes a great World Cup ad:

They capture the spirit of the World Cup.The ads that were celebratory and joyful in theme connected best with consumers. Coca-Cola’s Stock Up features the array of emotions often experienced during the World Cup by fans, both male and female. The popular soft drink plays an essential part of that experience as fans go through the highs and lows of a match. Ads which promoted more earnest or negative messages, such as the struggle to succeed depicted in Beats’ ad, missed the mark. 

They tell a clear and relatable story.  Previous Kantar Millward Brown research shows that the world’s strongest campaigns tell engaging stories based on fundamentally relevant insights. Mars, Visa, Lidl and Coke all depict real-seeming situations that everyone can identify with, and tell a human story. Celebrities and footballers featured in many campaigns and while these can be interesting, using them without a story or in an unrealistic setting fails to connect emotionally. Lidl’s ad, on the other hand, successfully shows the human side of the England team rather than idealising them, which creates a strong response, much in the same way that people are connecting with the team in the tournament.

They harness the emotional power of the World Cup,combined with strong branding and a connection to the product.The World Cup offers a great opportunity to boost salience and borrow the emotional power of a global event, but consumers also have to make a link between the ad and the brand and benefit of the product to them for the emotional associations to accrue to the advertiser. Mars does well here, with a highly relevant competition, while Visa clearly articulates an existing benefit (contactless) in a fresh new way.

Graham Page. Kantar Millward Brown’s Managing Director, Offer and Innovation, says: “Advertising around major sports events is much more successful if it gauges and harnesses the mood. ‘Real’ stories and humorous situations work better than big, grandiose or earnest ads, which don’t really connect with consumers. The World Cup is all about joy, so the ads that are about struggle and weighty causes are not widely resonant.”

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