Advertising at the World Cup is a different ball game

Nike Football ad

Animated versions of notorious soccer players risk everything in 'The Last Game,' a Nike ad influenced by the World Cup.

The World Cup in Brazil is an advertising bonanza. Companies pay as much as $100 million just to be an official part of the games. But if you’ve watched any games on TV, you may have noticed one big difference from other sports events: there are very few commercial breaks.

That means few ads like Budweiser’s Puppy Love, where a dog fell for a Clydesdale. 

“The World Cup is an anomaly because you’re not getting the same type of commercials every 10 minutes, every 20 minutes," says Ben Sturner, CEO of the sports marketing firm, the Leverage Agency. 

While there are few commercial breaks, all around the Brazil stadiums are logos for international brands like Coca Cola and Adidas. There are ads on uniforms, and even on the TV screen itself. 

“Having a static ad in the background may not give you the exact messaging in a commercial ad,” Sturner says, “but you’re getting minutes and minutes of time and your brand has association at the highest level.” 

This works really well for big brands that are already well known.

“All you want is lots of exposure and lots of reminders,” says Professor Gerard Tellis, who studies advertising effectiveness at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. 

He says seeing these logos raise the probability that we’ll choose Coke over Pepsi, or McDonalds over Burger King. 

Thirty second ads have been losing effectiveness over the last few decades. It’s now about getting a viral hit online, which can also save a company a lot of money. 

That’s what headphone maker Beats by Dre managed by releasing a five-minute video online showing players arriving while wearing its headphones.

Never mind that FIFA actually banned Beats from the World Cup because only Sony paid the big bucks to be an official sponsor. The Beats video already has more than 17 million views on YouTube. 

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