2014’s most successful World Cup campaigns

Beats World CupThe Fifa World Cup has begun. Brands around the globe are in guerrilla marketing mode. Here are more highlights of the best unofficial campaigns from this year’s World Cup – with one exception perhaps.

Beats: #TheGameBeforeTheGame

‘The Game Before The Game’ is a beautifully executed campaign starring Luis Suarez, Robin Van Persie and an impressive roll call of other international footballers. Each of the athletes is shown during their pre-game rituals, with music revealed as a common theme. The viral advert has clearly touched a chord with a younger demographic who are responding positively on social media. Having hit the right tone for its target audience, this campaign will go a long way to reigniting the desire for Beats products that has perhaps waned in recent months. We can expect to see a global spike in sales for Beats in the coming weeks, just what the brand needs under new ownership.

Nike: ‘Winner Stays – Risk Everything’

Nike’s unofficial World Cup advert has had more than 70 million views on YouTube and includes cameos from a whole host of prominent footballers including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr, Wayne Rooney and Thiago Silva. The campaign coincides with the release of the brand’s latest football boot which features prominently throughout the advert. The activity cleverly combines a human touch of ‘backyard’ football with high-profile global superstars, without ever explicitly mentioning the World Cup. The campaign is proving to be significantly more prominent than ‘The Dream: all in or nothing’ advert from Adidas, an official sponsor of the World Cup. This effectively confirms Nike’s position as king of guerrilla ATL and the brand has once again scored big with high profile sportspeople and impressive levels of public engagement.

Carlsberg: ‘Fan Squad’

Another unofficial advert stealing the spotlight this year is Carlsberg’s ‘Fan Squad’ campaign. The spot portrays the perfect World Cup viewing conditions based on market research which asked fans what could ruin their experience while watching football at their local pub (e.g. size of the screen, queuing for drinks). Starring high-profile figures including Ian Wright, Paddy McGuinness and Jeff Stelling, the campaign focuses on their personalities and charisma rather than their star power. And by putting the match in the background and focusing on the collective experience in the pub, Carlsberg has successfully tapped into the shared experience quality of the World Cup. The advert is designed to position Carlsberg as the ‘beer of choice’ for England fans during the World Cup in a clear attempt to undercut Budweiser as the official beer of the tournament.

Visa: ‘Jamaica to Brazil: from athlete to footballer’

However, not all of this year’s official sponsors are being overlooked by their unofficial counterparts. Visa’s ‘Jamaica to Brazil from athlete to footballer’ campaign featuring global sprint legend Usain Bolt is possibly the most memorable piece of activity overall. The entertaining advert shows Bolt making his way from a Jamaican athletic track to the Maracana stadium in Brazil where he sneaks onto the pitch at the start of a match. Along the way the icon becomes immersed in Brazilian football, transforming from an athlete to a footballer with every online, contactless, and mobile purchase. The campaign is simple, clever, effective and memorable with huge brand recall; absolutely pitch perfect from the official World Cup sponsor.

Guerrilla marketing is becoming more and more sophisticated across all media, but now those official brands that have paid handsomely to be at the forefront of people’s minds will get four weeks of uninterrupted promotion. Their logos and messaging will be displayed across the electronic hoardings and on our screens during every match broadcast to a global audience of millions. That exposure, reinforced by any supporting ATL activity, will achieve the high brand recall desired by the sponsors; converting this into sales is the tricky part that brands must get right at the point of purchase to avoid guerrilla brands stealing too much of the market share.

Daniel Todaro is managing director at Gekko Group