From baseball in Cuba, to boxing in Mexico, to basketball in Argentina, one thing’s for sure when it comes to Latin America: they are passionate about sport. And none more so than football/soccer – nicknamed “the beautiful game” by Brazil’s own Pelé – which is an important component of the Latin American culture. It’s the most religiously followed of sports across the region, transcending barriers between young and old, rich and poor.
A study from Havas Sports & Entertainment looked at sports fans in five Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. The research highlighted three logics of engagement that stand out in comparison to the global population: Pride, Immersion and Play.
It’s a well known fact that football fans in Latin America are an interesting target for brands because they are more receptive than their global counterparts to brand sponsorship, particularly in terms of brand image and purchase intent. Over half (55%) of Latin American football fans believe that football sponsorship improves the image of a brand (22% more than the global average).
As expected, given that the 21st FIFA World Cup was held this year, the shortlist for the Festival of Media LatAm Awards 2018 featured plenty of examples in which sport played a significant role in the campaign (12% of overall entries). Of those, three went on to be awarded Gold trophies, two Silver and one Bronze. But what can we learn about how to engage sports fans in Latin America?
The biggest recurring trend across the sports-centred entries was real-time marketing. That’s perhaps unsurprising given that Latin American fans have a huge emotional connection with sport and the players, and strive to be part of the action. Some of the most successful campaigns played on the power of reacting to events or incidents that took place during the game to offer fans relevant, contextual, personalised content that captivated audiences in real-time.
Partnerships and sponsorships were another staple for this year’s entries, ensuring that relevant content was distributed across the most visited sports portals and digital platforms. Within this context, in some cases branded content was created in partnership with established media brands across the region to amplify the brand message, while delivering content that inspired and built an emotional connection with fans – across multiple platforms.
Speaking at the Festival of Media LatAm 2018, in a session entitled ‘Turning “likes” into brand impact: how to capture the power of social media in Latin America’, Leslie Koch, Director Social Strategy at Turner Broadcasting and Rebecca Poynton-Murray, Head of Commercial Product, CNN International Commercial & T1 took to the stage to discuss the emotional connection brands need to create on social media to have real brand impact.
“Our goal is really to maximise engagement. It’s not just driving impressions but really driving interaction with your audience,” said Koch.
In the true nature of the game itself, social media had a significant role to play in all campaigns; from crowdsourcing supporting messages from real fans to give them a chance to be involved in the game, to engaging with influencers for greater visibility, and using relevant hashtags to amplify reach in real-time, creating organic impressions and earned media.
The real trick for brands in engaging with sports fans in Latin America is through tapping into consumers’ passions and using storytelling techniques – across multiple platforms (digital and traditional) – to to build an emotional connection. Campaigns that evoke the beauty of the sport, its most spectacular moments and its legends, appeal to these fans – so when it comes to sport, a fan-centered approach is crucial in opening the door to new opportunities for engagement.
We put the spotlight on two Festival of Media LatAm Awards 2018 winning campaigns, which highlight this trend:
The Supporting Screens | Cristal (AB InBev) | Initiative | Peru
Shortlisted for: Best Communications Strategy (GOLD WINNER), Best Use of Traditional Media
Peru is a poor country with close-to-none true joys. In 2017, Peru’s National Football Team was once again struggling in its qualification matches. After 36 years of not going to a World Cup, local football directives’ corruption and player’s scandals, faith was not lost. Peru is a football Country with a handful of Football stars like Guerrero, Farfán and Carrillo – born and raised in poor “barrios” (neighborhoods) with poor education. They, as the whole National Team, learned their first moves and grew their first football techniques in their barrios. After years of hard work and “barrio support”, they now shine in UEFA and other important leagues. Those triumph stories inspire every single of the thirty-two million Peruvians that scream, pray, cry and suffer with each match, in the hopes of seeing their Team going to a FIFA World Cup once again.
How could Peruvians, with all their passion and colorful support could back their team up, being so far away in body and soul? How could Cristal bring its renowned “barrio passionate support” to its team? If Cristal could become the voice of thirty-two million Peruvians supporting their Football team, it would become meaningful for everybody, and boost sales.
“The Supporting Screens” were stadium LED banners located in the three football fields were Peru played its matches in Ecuador, Argentina and New Zealand. However, instead of showing Cristal branding, it managed to show thousands of supporting messages from real Peruvians, real fans back home, to their National Football team. In addition, key opinion leaders commented on Open TV, social media and live streaming services. They noticed the Supporting Screens and recited them aloud several times during the matches on their programmes.
Football won’t play against you | Apronax | MediaCom | Colombia
Shortlisted for: Best Use of Programmatic (GOLD WINNER)
Football is the king of sports in Colombia and when the FIFA World Cup arrives, that nation is glued to their screens. With so many advertisers competing for attention, brands have to be smart to cut through the noise. The official sponsors of the World Cup and the Colombian national team, i.e. those who have the highest budgets, tend to be the ones people remember the most. Think Budweiser or McDonald’s. As Apronax (Bayer’s pain relief medicine) is not a brand with these advantages (low budget and not a sponsor), MediaCom had to find a unique way of making it heard.
At least 90% of Colombians have declared to play football at least once and 45% of football fans said that they still play it in an active way. That means that a large number of Colombians have experienced what it’s like to be fouled, kicked by an opponent, or even injured during a game. And for die-hard Colombian football fans, when a member of the national team is fouled, they feel it themselves. The insight was that fouls and injuries could be the perfect moment to showcase the brand. The World Cup is played over 64 games, meaning it would have many opportunities to talk to a captivated audience (an average 6,850,000 people tuning the World Cup matches, IBOPE).
MediaCom developed adverts for Apronax as a solution for pain relief that would be displayed in real-time whenever a player was fouled during a World Cup game across Colombia’s most visited digital platforms. This unique algorithm required complex development. So it used its programmatic TV SYNC tool to scan videos of fouls and incorporated them into a database detecting similar images and patterns. This would trigger specific ads during events. It scanned 150 football games and selected kicks and fouls as a trigger to send personalised and real-time ads. All these ads were activated on digital platforms through different marketplaces, which each ad sending people to Rappi – one of Colombia’s biggest eCommerce platform – to buy the product.