As soccer fans, we can’t wait for the June 3rd kick off of Copa America Centenario. With some of the worlds’ greatest players on show, the action promises to be something truly special. And, as marketers, we are equally excited to see the action during the commercial breaks, in the stadiums, at retail, and throughout the digital and social media landscape.
Since this is a marketing blog we will leave our match predictions and player analysis on the sidelines and focus on the different tactics brands might use to win the day this summer. We see four primary game plans being deployed by brand marketers.
1. Red, White, and You
American pride is a powerful passion point and with the event happening in the U.S it’s likely some brands will go all in on the red, white, and blue narrative. When done well this approach is a proven winner and at the core of many successful brand campaigns around both the Men’s and Women’s World Cups and the Olympics. Since the United States is the proverbial “melting pot” and soccer is the recognized “global game,” it’s likely we will see some brands play up this angle and leverage the coming together of nations to showcase the diversity story that is such a great part of the United States.
2. Hispanic fast ball (yes, I know…a baseball reference)
Univision is boldly predicting higher ratings for Copa America Centenario than the World Cup – a confidence driven in large part by the participation of 15 Hispanic nations in the event together with the United States (at the 2014 World Cup there were only nine). There is no question many brands see this event as an incredible opportunity to strengthen their position with this all-important demographic. But what will their Hispanic narrative be?
With 64% (35M) of Hispanics in the United States being of Mexican origin and a well established Mexican soccer marketing foundation in place, it’s likely some brands will look to win the Hispanic battle by winning with Mexicans. From a practical standpoint, the lack of preparation time for this event may also see brands simply turn to their existing marketing assets many of which are likely targeted at the Mexican fan.
But Copa America Centenario is much more than just a Mexican story. It touches and embraces numerous Hispanic nationalities and this presents a different and perhaps more inclusive approach that a brand could embrace. This broader Hispanic perspective would be a logical accentuation of the “Americana” game plan previously mentioned.
3. It’s a Celebration
Copa America Centenario is a special event – a one-time only celebration of 100 years of Copa America. One approach is to tap into this notion to create a brand story that places an emphasis on celebrating elements that are great about soccer, America, and/or individual brand history/values.
4. Star power
“If nationalism transcends soccer, then star power transcends nationalism.” It’s an interesting statement and a strategy some brands may well adopt. The diminutive Argentinean, Lionel Messi, is by far the most popular player in the U.S and yet according to Pew Research there are only 268,000 Argentinians in the U.S. Every player has appeal to their fellow countrymen and women, but true superstar status makes a player relevant to fans of the beautiful game regardless of their nationality. “Soccer relevance” is a truly global narrative with no nationalistic boundaries – a point illustrated by looking at the most popular players in America.
To further illustrate this it’s worth noting the most popular players for Hispanic and General Market soccer fans in the US.
Let the games begin and may the best marketers win!