Friday, July 30, 2010

Official Sponsors Score With World Cup

Adidas, Coke, Visa, Sony and the Rest Tout the Success of Their Soccer Activation

By Rich Thomaselli

Published: July 26, 2010

NEW YORK ( -- Americans might be slow in numbers to embrace soccer, but for advertisers, the recently completed FIFA World Cup was nothing short of a golden goal.

The six official FIFA partners successfully fended off some good ambush-marketing tactics, and while most of the evidence is anecdotal in nature only 15 days after Spain's victory over Holland, there is a cautious optimism that the sponsors -- Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, Sony, Hyundai/Kia and Emirates Airlines -- got a big bang for their $125 million.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Visa exceeded its expectations with its first-time sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup.

Moreover, the USA's performance at the event -- winning its group to advance to the Round of 16 -- not only helped nudge the needle on soccer's popularity in the states, but has enticed even more sponsors to join America's bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

"I've got an interesting perspective since I was both here at home and on the ground in South Africa," said Kathy Carter, exec VP for Major League Soccer and the head of SUM, Soccer United Marketing, which helps cull multiple, soccer-central deals for advertisers. "I can tell that with rare exception, the official partners owned the World Cup. From Visa's point of sale to Adidas' presence all over, you knew who really owned the event."

Indeed, two weeks into the five-week tournament, NM Incite found that official sponsors connected better with World Cup fans than non-sponsors, registering an average 55% higher net likability than commercials from non-sponsors. The company has yet to release a post-World Cup survey.

Even better, Ms. Carter said the amount of advertising in the U.S. during ESPN's and Univision's coverage of the World Cup increased.

"This is the first time we've seen so much creative centered around the event," she said. "Frankly, I think it's a watershed moment in advertising on soccer."

Seemingly everybody scored. Most of the marketers said it was too early to glean ROI information from their investment (Adidas sold 6 million soccer jerseys during the tournament, 3 million more than during the 2006 World Cup in Germany) but they are seeing the success anecdotally.

Emmanuel Seuge, Coca-Cola's director of worldwide entertainment and marketing, told Bloomberg News that the soft-drink maker expects gains in sales and consumer perceptions based on its ad campaign and the wild success of the "Wavin' Flags" song the company commissioned for the World Cup.

Budweiser's "Bud House" digital-reality show, part of its Bud United campaign, was one of the top five branded YouTube channels during the span of the tournament from June 11 to July 11.

Visa's "Express Your True Colors" ad campaign from TBWA, as well as its ultra-successful YouTube channel from digital agency AKQA, were highly regarded. The "Go Fans" YouTube channel, in which fans could watch videos of famous soccer players make a "Goal!" call or upload their own videos, currently has 7.5 million views -- 50% more than the 5 million Visa was hoping for.

"This was our first time as worldwide sponsors and our first activation around the World Cup. To say that we're pleased would be an understatement," said Jennifer Bazante, Visa International's VP-global marketing.

Ms. Bazante said Visa decided to enter the World Cup fray after 20 successful years as a global Olympics partner. "The World Cup sponsorship was part and parcel of our overall global strategy," Ms. Bazante said. "They really have a lot of synergy. The World Cup is slightly different, though. There's a very strong fan base for the Olympics in North America. For the World Cup, it's strong in other parts of the world."

That leads to the inevitable question of whether soccer can fly in the U.S. From a fan's perspective, "the beautiful game" is nonetheless hard to compete with the meat-and-potatoes football, baseball, basketball and hockey mentality, but the signs are there. Organizers of the July 28 friendly match between Mexico's Club America and England's Manchester City at the Georgia Dome had to turn away sponsors after all the marketing slots were filled.

And, Ms. Carter said, there will likely be an announcement in the coming weeks from companies taking corporate sponsorships with the USA Bid Committee working on securing either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

A big help would be if Landon Donovan, the breakout star of the U.S. team who scored the unforgettable goal against Algeria that put the team into the next round, remains in the country to play in the MLS with the L.A. Galaxy.

Bob Dorfman, partner in the San Francisco firm Baker Street Advertising, said Mr. Donovan needs to stay top of mind since there are four years between World Cups, but that he is best served by being cast as a role player in endorsements.

"Whether he can carry a whole campaign on his own is questionable," Mr. Dorfman said. "I see him working best in a supporting role, maybe alongside Peyton Manning for Sony, with Jared for Subway, or maybe teaming with fellow players like Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain for foot-related products like Tinactin or Dr. Scholl's."

Small Agency of the Year, Campaign of the Year: Definition 6's 'Happiness Machine'

Tasked With Challenge of Creating Viral Video for Coke, Shop Delivers and -- Surprise! -- Everybody's Happy

By Ann-christine Diaz

Published: July 26, 2010

NEW YORK ( -- In 2006, Coca-Cola entered a creative renaissance with the launch of its "Coke Side of Life" campaign, returning the brand to its feel-good roots, but with a fresh, modern spin.

One of the effort's marquee spots was the whimsical "Happiness Factory" commercial. Created out of Wieden & Kennedy and directed by Psyop, it depicted the whimsical world of animated Coke "factory" workers inside a vending machine, dispensing the magic formula to customers who dropped a coin into its slot. While the spot was a standout example of big traditional production, this year Coke teamed with Atlanta-headquartered Definition 6 on an unconventional, real-world approach to extending the happiness mantra further -- and into another dispenser of surprises, "Happiness Machine," Ad Age's Small Agency Campaign of the Year.

 Part of Coke's "Open Happiness" push launched in 2009, the campaign captured consumers' attention on site -- and online -- with a simple but remarkable real-world stunt. Armed with a budget of only $60,000, Definition 6 gutted a run-of-the mill dispenser on the campus of St. John's University in Queens, New York, and literally stuffed it with surprises. Co-eds who inserted a dollar into the slot scored not the expected 16-ounce bottle, but everything from 2-liter jugs to pizzas, flowers and 12-foot heroes.

Genuine glee was apparent in the students' reactions -- captured on video and then seeded for free on YouTube, Facebook and other sites. The film went on to generate 500,000 views the first week of its release and, to date, views have surpassed 2 million. The campaign was so popular the agency later re-created the film for broadcast and aired it during this year's season finale of "American Idol."

How they did it
The brief the agency received from Coke was to create something that had viral traction. However, "there are no guarantees regarding anything going viral," said Definition 6 Executive Creative Director John Harne. "Viral implies you are in a popularity contest; viewers must choose to see the video. This is unlike what most agencies create spots for. You cannot buy airtime based upon ratings. Instead, the best you can do is to seed the videos. We had a good strategy for that and were successful. And let's not forget luck. We informed the client there are no guarantees and we consider timing and luck part of our success."

But there are some points you can be mindful of. "You have got to be really original, entertain and be relevant to the audience you seek," said Mr. Harne. "The broader the audience, the tougher that is. Creating a viral video of a sick skateboard trick is far easier than creating something that has broader appeal."

Yet mass appeal "Happiness Machine" did have -- what's broader than something Coke deems worthy of a spot on "Idol"?

One of the things that makes the film so infectious is the authenticity of the participants' shrieks and giggles in the web film. That's hard to achieve when something is staged -- and, in this case, if the stunt itself carries on for more than a blink. (The shoot took place over two days.) "Inevitably, people got wise to the experiment," explained D6 creative director and director Paul Iannacchino. "Even so, there were always newcomers due to the heavy foot traffic, and we rarely repeated gags. So there was always something new and different to entice the crowd. Escalation was always a part of our plan on the ground and within the finished narrative."

This campaign, and other efforts that earn, not buy their way into consumers' radars, serve as a wake-up call for big marketers who continue to focus their media strategies and dollars on big budget traditional efforts. Also, like some of the other celebrated efforts of the year (Nike Chalkbot, Volkswagen Fun Theory), "Happiness Machine" brings the tangible, real-world experience back into an increasingly online world -- and earns that much more respect for it. "I don't think tomorrow's consumers will share a commercial, but give them an engaging piece of content (branded or not) that they identify with, that makes an emotional connection and resonates amongst the group you hope to reach, and the sky's the limit," said Mr. Harne.


Perhaps no bit of brand creativity captured the zeitgeist of a wicked 2009 better than Expense-a-Steak.

New York agency Walrus created the web and mobile app for client Fourth Wall Restaurants and its midtown eatery Maloney & Porcelli. The high-end restaurant is located in the heart of what is now essentially the financial district, serving the workforce of companies that became famous for all the wrong reasons in 2009 -- Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, and their brethren.

With the economy in ruins, and Big Finance standing there holding a bag full of your bailout dollars, even those who could still afford lavish lunches were balking at the idea of submitting lavish receipts to accounts payable. Maloney & Porcelli, like many restaurants, was suffering.

Enter Walrus with an ingenious bit of brand utility. With the Expense-a-Steak expense-report generator, restaurant patrons could continue to gorge on pricey protein and pour brown liquor over themselves in an unapologetic orgy of consumption and then, when it came time to submit the evidence, they could hit Expense-a-Steak Headquarters, input the total damage, click "Expense It" and get a PDF full of convincing-looking fake receipts -- from more democratic sorts of institutions like the Office Supply Hut and The Panini Experience.

Walrus also reinterpreted the restaurant's takeout bags, so patrons could look as if they'd been to Sbarro, Olive Garden or Chipotle (the latter two didn't take kindly to the free exposure and issued ceases and desists).

"We did a ton of interviews ... and the one big 'a-ha' moment that came out of it came from a restaurant analyst who said, 'Right now, nobody has the guts to turn in an expense report with a receipt from Maloney & Porcelli on it,'" said Walrus Chief Creative Officer and founder Deacon Webster. "That quote became the catalyst for the brief."

The Fourth Wall team "laughed out loud immediately and knew our core clientele at Maloney & Porcelli would understand the tongue-in-cheek humor," said Fourth Wall Marketing Director Allison Good. "Expense-a-Steak was a great idea at the right moment."

To help seed the app, Walrus enlisted PR/communications shop KCSA. "We weren't looking at your usual foodie outlets like New York magazine or the dining section of the Times; we wanted financial pubs." They got them, and more; the site earned coverage in just about every financial, advertising, food and consumer facing outlet.

According to Walrus, the project earned nearly 39 million media impressions, and 150,000 sets of receipts were downloaded in the first two weeks of the PR-only campaign. Most important, M&P reservations were up 15% in the wake of its launch.

"The app was even featured in Roll Call, which only goes to people on Capitol Hill," said Mr. Webster. "This had us freaking out for a few days because we had around 50 hits on the site from the Department of Justice and the House of Representatives."

Right. The fraud part. Mr. Webster said, to his knowledge, no one has actually tried to submit an Expense-a-Steak receipt. "We had our lawyers look into it, and they basically came back with something along the lines of: 'From a practical perspective, no business would ever sue you for this because if they actually paid someone's bills based on these receipts, that would force them to acknowledge that they have the most negligent auditing procedure known to mankind.'"

-- Teressa Iezzi