The World Cup starts today. This is not a drill.

The World Cup starts today. This is not a drill.

One of the biggest sporting events on the planet* starts today. Brazil v Croatia. 9pm.

But when it comes to marketing, World Cup fever has of course been here for weeks already.

With about 40 million views on YouTube between them, Nike, Samsung and Beats have made epic attempts to capture the scope of the dreams pinned on national sporting heroes. Paddy Power did not destroy the Amazon Rainforest, and rather tellingly, Adidas poured spend from other channels into its digital marketing.

Because that’s where most of the marketing will happen. The World Cup may be 64 times longer than the Super Bowl, but it only has twice the time for commercial breaks. This means that a lot of brands will be relying on second screen interactions to reach football fans throughout the tournament.

Real time marketing especially will be a big player. At Advertising Week Europe 2014 Coca Cola’s head of assets and experiential, Paul Dwan said technology will be the big change since 2010: “In real-time, there were 2.3 billion consumers engaging with the World Cup in 2010. This year it’ll be more like three billion. The biggest difference will be the need to be real-time rather than pre-planned.”

When it comes to “real-time”, what many people mean is Twitter. Facebook has incorporated more real time elements, but the default setting for its News Feed isn’t chronological, which is a problem when it comes to interacting with events as they unfold.

Facebook has introduced a “trending” page for the World Cup, a similar hub has been launched by Twitter, too. The pages include scores, match timetables etc. It’s clear that Facebook is continuing with its real-time aspirations, but when it comes to the World Cup, Twitter will be hard to beat.

The last World Cup tournament generated record-breaking levels of Twitter traffic. It’s been superseded by other events since as Twitter’s userbase has grown, but a survey by GlobalWebIndex predicts that 2014 will be another record breaker.

Twitter isn’t taking any chances, though. With their user growth tapering off and worrying investors, the World Cup represents a rare truly global event the platform can use to lure new users. They launched a YouTube ad this week to advertise the #WorldCup on Twitter, linking the excitement of every kick to clouds of Tweets, hashtags, and hashflags.

The social network’s other World Cup feature is the pleasingly titled hashflag. For the duration of the tournament, every competing nation gets their own flag generated on the site by a three letter tag. #Eng generates a tiny St George’s cross, for example.

It really appears that if you’re talking about #WorldCup2014 it’s best to do it on Twitter (or actually with people in the pub, but you know).

And by all accounts there’ll be lots to talk about. The hype in the ads is not to be ignored, according to former Liverpool, Real Madrid and England footballer Steve McManaman, also at the Ad Week Europe panel:”Brazil is the mythical country when it comes to football – I remember the 1982 team. It promises to be the biggest and most magical tournament so far.”


*We’d say in the universe, but Fermi says that’s unlikely.

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