Who’s getting the beers in for World Cup 2014?

NikeDespite the disappointing result at the weekend, with the World Cup finally underway, the noise from Fifa 2014 marketing campaigns has become almost deafening! Or maybe this is because we lost – after all, brands need to make the most of the opportunity while we’re all still glued to watching England play (even if we’re watching it through our fingers!), writes Emma Jones.

The campaign that was pretty much the first to kick this all off was Nike’s ad – an epic and fantastically filmed piece of advertising.

When I first saw it, though, there were no surprises. A plethora of highly paid players – tick. Cool footwork – tick. The latest boots – tick. The underdog coming good in the end – tick…

All of which left me feeling that World Cup marketing hadn’t moved on much for years.

For as long as I can remember it’s been about men, beer, crisps, razors and being a winner. Pretty much the only woman in the Nike ad is the glamorous one blowing a kiss – not someone the average female will especially identify with.

However, since then, looking at what other brands are doing around the Brazilian World Cup, it seems my initial worries may be unfounded. This World Cup seems to be a distinctly more feminine affair, starting with Fifa’s slogan – “All in one rhythm”. This celebrates Brazil’s samba rhythms, but also has a more inclusive and female vibe that nods to the fact that over 40% of viewers for World Cup 2010 were women.

The campaigns of the main sponsors also focus on distinctly more female traits – caring, community and togetherness. Coca-Cola’s campaign centres on sharing moments of happiness. It uses plenty of photos of women and the emphasis of its ad campaign is around football bringing people together.

It’s a similar tack to that taken by Budweiser with its “rise as one” campaign, which has been built around a series of human interest documentaries that capture the way the beautiful game unites and lifts the lives of fans around the world. These are interesting and engaging to anyone, whatever their gender and whatever their level of fervour for the World Cup.

Interestingly, there are also official brand sponsors that I wouldn’t have expected to see. Johnson & Johnson, for instance, isn’t perhaps the most masculine of brands. However, it is the Official Healthcare Sponsor of Fifa 2014 with a positioning around its “passion for caring and devotion to families”.

From amongst non-sponsors, there are interesting approaches too. With its “earn it” campaign, Strongbow is challenging ‘regular guys’ to put together a football team to win the chance to go to Rio and compete against one of Brazil’s best female teams. This may include sexy women, but they are empowered sexy women who are seen as more than equals.

These are all reflections of an exciting, more positive and inclusive feel around football. It seems that the football sector has woken up to the fact that it’s no longer appropriate to view football as the traditional, male-orientated game of yore. They’re looking at how to create a broader appeal and putting greater investment into women’s football too.

Thankfully, all of these campaigns feel a long way away from the stereotypical football view of women as seen on Adidas’s World Cup t-shirt earlier this year – and condemned by the Brazilian government. And the derogatory, sexist emails sent by Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore.

adidas world cup t-shirt
As trend watchers, many brands have noticed the shift and understood the emotional value football can bring into play – not just with dad, but with the whole family. They are starting to understand that a woman can be as big a fan as any man – if not bigger, according to research by the UK Football League.

And also that, for women who are mums, there is the additional emotional tug around knowing how much football means to their children and partners. So, tap into this and you’re creating something far bigger.

This represents a big change in thinking for brands – and a hugely important one. After all, 85% of consumer purchase decisions are made by women. This means men may well be having a pint or two when watching a match at home, but women are probably also not only joining them for a beer, but getting the beers in in the first place!

What’s particularly interesting, though, is that marketers are also beginning to realise that appealing to women doesn’t have to mean creating brands, packaging or campaigns that are explicitly female orientated or pandering to female stereotypes. Women are often far more demanding and sophisticated consumers than men.

The World Cup campaigns show that by using more emotive language, personal stories, stylish design and relevancy it is possible to keep male audiences engaged while significantly broadening your appeal amongst women. You need to draw on real insight and an expert touch to get it right, or you can end up alienating everyone….

…but do it well, and it’s a win/win strategy, which seems appropriate when we’re looking at the World Cup. Let’s hope the England team’s strategy can start to be more effective against Uruguay……Come on you England!

Emma Jones is managing partner at Redshoe Brand Design