New York, NY (July 1, 2014) - The so called “American Exceptionalism” is still alive and well. The United States continues to live to the beat of its own and unique drumbeat. The belief in the “American Dream” and its meritocracy continues to be strong. Millions of people around the world still desperately want to come to “the land of opportunity,” the country that continuously advocates and supports democracy, freedom and liberty around the world.
Part of this exceptionalism includes America’s pride and support of American sports like NFL football, NBA basketball and “America’s Pastime” MLB baseball, all to the detriment of “The World’s Sport,” futbol/soccer. While soccer is making strides in the United States, it is still “years removed from being an American curiosity or even a niche sport,” as the Washington Post put it in a recent article.
The lure of futbol/soccer, or European football, still continues to tempt mainstream America, and every four years, that temptation becomes more and more appealing. Yet, still, the majority of Americans are not quite rabid about “el jogo bonito.” [Watch this spot by ABC/ESPN, the English-language U.S. television rights-holder, aiming to generate excitement with the broad U.S. audience at large]
What does this mean for marketers activating programs around the FIFA World Cup targeting the U.S. market?
Well, with the emergence of the young, trendsetting and growing “Multicultural America,” it means investing in relatively inexpensive program [compared equivalent participation in the NFL, the NBA and MLB] with a virtually guaranteed solid return on investment. But wait, there is more. Should the U.S. national team exceed expectations, well, the ROI would be truly become a world class “golazo!”
Let’s start with the U.S. core soccer audience: “Multicultural America.” There are 110 million "people of color" in the United States today accounting for 35% of the total U.S. population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. 50.5 million Hispanics constitute the largest multicultural community in the U.S. (making up 16.3% of the nation’s population). By 2050, minorities will be the majority in United States, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.
A major Nielsen research study asserts: "If it were a standalone country, the U.S. Hispanic market buying power would make it one of the top twenty economies in the world.”
The same study reports the following:
- Per capita income of U.S. Hispanics is higher than any one of the highly coveted BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
- The Hispanic market’s buying power is $1 trillion as of 2010, and is projected to increase to $1.5 trillion by 2015.
- Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic segment expected to grow 167 percent from 2010 to 2050, compared to 42 percent for the total population.
- Latinos are a fundamental component to business success, and not a passing niche on the sidelines.
Oh, yes, did I mention that U.S. Hispanics are hard-core, passionate futbol/soccer fans?
According to Nielsen, the overall U.S. audience for all 2013 televised soccer events was 67 percent Hispanic.
“The vast majority of U.S. Hispanics love soccer and become absorbed and enthralled with the FIFA World Cup every four years,” said Henry Cardenas, President and CEO of Cardenas Marketing Network. “Moreover, their interest does not just revolve around one team. They follow Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and all of Latin American teams closely, but they love the tournament as a whole and want to know everything that transpires there.” CMN is a leading live events and experiential marketing firm that is heavily involved in U.S. soccer marketing. CMN currently holds the U.S. marketing rights for the Argentina national team.
For U.S. World Cup marketers like Visa and Coca Cola (FIFA Partners), in addition to Budweiser and McDonald’s (FIFA World Cup Sponsors), this means that they can be certain that they will connect with a large U.S. audience made up predominantly of Hispanics and other soccer mad multicultural communities from European, Asian and African countries that will watch and experience the tournament with a high degree of engagement.
Budweiser®, the official beer sponsor of the tournament, has one of the most comprehensive, creative and ambitious global activations, including its Rise As One global campaign, a series of soccer-themed activations, both on-site and around the world. That effort is supported by the company’s global Celebrate As One television advertising campaign.
The Budweiser® campaign does not stop there. The company will host a series of music concerts and special events at the company branded Budweiser® Hotel by Pestana at Copacabana Beach. But, the one element of their activation that will surely get the most fan attention and fan engagement is their decision to allow fans to help select the “FIFA Man of the Match” via an all new Twitter voting platform. This award recognizes the top player of each match considered to have had the most significant impact or influence on their team's performance.
In the United States, Cardenas Marketing Network is being tapped by Anheuser Busch’s Bud Light® to organize a major experiential marketing program that includes organizing “The FIFA World Cup™ Finals Bud Light® VIP Party in Las Vegas”, putting together a carnival float and a private viewing party in Los Angeles, in addition to another viewing party in St. Louis, MO, the beer company’s headquarters. For a complete look at all CMN Bud Light U.S. activations please click here.
Besides official World Cup partners and sponsors, many other U.S. marketers are catching World Cup fever and are getting into the game, pun intended. Even just before the tournament kicked off, Univision, the U.S. Spanish-language television rights-holder, was already reporting that is is seeing a doubling of digital ad spend compared to the last World Cup.
With a secure ROI scenario, U.S. World Cup marketers also have chance of playing a “wild card” in terms of the potential performance of the U.S. national team. The team has already surpassed expectations qualifying to the second round despite competing in a tough group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. The impressive Team USA, coached by former German star striker Jurgen Klinsmann, now faces the exciting prospect of advancing further into the later stages of the tournament.
The potential is there for “The Red, White and Blue” to beat the odds and to the unthinkable.
What if -literally facing 100 to 1 odds as of the time this article is published- the U.S. was to win its first ever FIFA World Cup™ championship?
The prospect of having Team USA advance to the Final would surely deliver the largest U.S. World Cup audience ever and would represent a marketing ROI super golazo!
That would be surely an ideal scenario. But U.S. World Cup marketers already have a winning “Multicultural America ticket” securely at hand. [Case in point: Univision reported the top Spanish telecast ever powered by its June 29 live broadcast of the World Cup match between Mexico and Holland. An all-time record 10.4 million tuned in]. Any additional U.S. National Team heroics would only sweeten the ROI pie.
Whether or not Team USA advances deeper in the tournament, U.S. World Cup marketers are already loving fútbol more than ever before.
Carlos G Giron is Major League Soccer’s former director of Hispanic communications and CONCACAF’ former manager of media relations. Currently, Mr. Giron owns and manages VIDA Communications, a public relations firm based in New York City.