For decades, advertising in America’s NFL Super Bowl has long been considered the grand prize for the world’s biggest brands. American football has just been left in the locker room.
If one measures viral video sharing, World Cup Soccer has already won the trophy. Unruly Media tracks social media movement of advertisements. Its data shows the top-five World Cup ads have already drawn more than 6.1 million shares worldwide. By comparison, the top-five Super Bowl XLIII ads drew 2.9 million shares. The World Cup games have only just begun and their advertisements have already out-performed Super Bowl exposure by 210%.
Much like the marketing in the Super Bowl, ad agencies and their brands are using some of the same theoretical communication concepts in targeting viewers. Long time University of Minnesota advertising researcher John Eighmey likes to call the main concept “likeability of the ad.” That is, if you like the advertisement, you’ll like the brand. It plays off Balance Theory where congruity is formed between the viewer, the ad, and the advertiser. That’s why so many of these ads are constructed to entertain rather than drive a hard selling proposition.
One of the top World Cup ads that successfully plays off this theory comes from Nike. It’s actually a short movie that uses Disney-like animation featuring soccer super stars Zlatan and Neymar Jr. It’s an easily digestible good vs. evil schema that plays off of Nike’s well established brand of empowerment.
The Bank of Chile has produced perhaps the most emotionally powerful ad of the games. Chile’s soccer team is placed in the same World Cup division as the titanic teams of Netherlands and Spain. It’s called the “death group.” In this case, no men are better suited to sell the argument of fighting death than the very Chilean miners who stared at death and won. The salient message from the Bank of Chile is that it is the bank which can help build impossible dreams.
This kind of advertising forum is tailor-made for soft drink brands. Pepsi has long aligned itself with youth—the Pepsi Generation. In this ad Pepsi zeros in on its roots once again driving home the message that Pepsi provides the rhythm of fun to live in the moment.
McDonald’s could have spent its World Cup marketing budget on selling burgers. Instead it’s selling soccer and kids who are “Loving it.” McDonald’s is making the bet that viewers will love this ad and love them back in return.
Finally, Castrol is out to show that it too has a trick play up its cylinder head. This video short pitting man against machine has already scored with fans who have viewed it more than 15 million times.
These are just five advertisements in a long list of brands vying for attention. But they’ve already shown their viral communication power on the world stage.