There’s Another World Cup Going On Right Now, and the Prize is Your Attention
Chase Koeneke | Associate Creative Director

We’ve reached the heart of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and it’s safe to say nobody saw what was coming: Mexico beat Germany, Iceland took a draw against Argentina and Lionel Messi, Brazil took a draw against Switzerland, and Japan made it to the second round. This tournament has been, to say the least, bizarre.

But there’s another World Cup taking place at this very moment, and it’s being played off the soccer fields and without a ball.

It’s the World Cup of brands, and (some of) the “teams” are throwing their old game plans out the window, attacking with an aggressive middle line, and trying to score every time they charge down the field. Americans typically think of the Super Bowl as the grand stage for marketing, but the World Cup only takes place every four years — needless to say we should expect nothing less than great ideas with great execution. Like soccer, winning the World Cup of brands requires patience, creativity, and a bit of luck. Creating ideas that not only spread, but speak to people of all nationalities is no easy task. And as brands across the world compete for the grand prize, our attention, the question remains: who will be the champion?

Without further adieu, here’s my analysis (which I hope you’ll enjoy more than the soccer “experts” on TV):

Wells Fargo opted for a counter-attack strategy using players from the US national team to support the neighboring team, Mexico. It sounds crazy, but this campaign is making a lot of noise and has stirred plenty of controversy on social media. Wells Fargo started a conversation, which is more than most brands can do. The downside, however, is that the conversation isn’t always positive. True soccer fans could never accept a former player like Landon Donovan changing teams and supporting his rival, Mexico. Could you?

Volkswagen encouraged Americans to hop on another country’s bandwagon since the US didn’t qualify the tournament. Their strategy? Remind us about the fun contributions that other nations have made to the world. For example, Germany gave us the Frankfurt sausage and Belgium has the best electronic dance festivals. This concept is nice, but I prefer to see a brand commit to something instead of compromising for everyone.

Bud Light is continuing its Dilly Dilly campaign, but with a twist that appeals to soccer fans. The campaign’s infamous medieval knights approach a sorceress who foresees an event that happens every four years where the whole world goes crazy (the World Cup), and advises the knights to stock up on as much Bud Light as possible. The commercial incorporates the simplistic humor that we all expect from Bud Light, but it’s far from taking home the grand prize.

GEICO scored big time with its “Longest Goal Celebration Ever” commercial by simply taking the popular “slide” soccer goal celebration and applying it to the universal concept of saving money on insurance. “As long as soccer players celebrate with the slide,” says GEICO, “you can count on GEICO saving folks money.”

Walmart used Hispanic stereotypes to the fullest with its World Cup commercial. In my opinion, the brand made a weak attempt to connect with the Hispanic audience by using Hispanic music and Spanish subtitles. There’s not much more to say other than it was overly cautious and full of stereotypes. A stage like the World Cup calls for much more effort.

Toyota made a special blend of coffee to keep people awake because the World Cup games are early in the morning. What does that have to do with trucks? I’m not quite sure.

My favorite World Cup marketing campaign came from Wish. The ecommerce company asked a simple question: what do star players do with all their free time when their home countries, like Netherlands, Chile and USA, don’t qualify for the World Cup? According to Wish, they cut the grass, decorate cakes and do other, well, normal stuff. And of course, we’re reminded that Wish makes shopping online fun and easy.

In the meantime, we can sit back and enjoy the brands (and teams) that bring us all together.

Soon enough, though, we’ll see which brand wins this “other” World Cup.


Who is your champion?

Chase Koeneke
Chase is the resident writer at Elasticity, playing with language and polishing messages to a mirror sheen. A graduate of the University of Missouri’s journalism program, he’s well-versed in everything from AP style to social media marketing, always looking at ways to use fewer words to forge deeper connections with consumers and businesses. But putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as the case may be) isn’t the whole story. His skill set also includes concepting, strategy, editing and even the occasional directing of video when called upon, and he’s worked with clients as varied as Brown-Forman, the St. Louis Blues and Bass Pro Shops.
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