Some vague thoughts on the world cup

Whats going to happen during the world cup ?


Well, England aren’t going to win. The Semi-Finals will include at least two teams from south or central America (history and all that)


Things will never be the same again (WTF?) . Yes, this World Cup will change everything. And it will change nothing . . .


One thing is will not be is platform neutral. It will be dominated by two platforms: TV and mobile.


TV is still the dominant platform for Live sports coverage across the planet. There is a reason for this. TV companies do large screens well. Very well. People want to share major sporting events with their friends, family, and increasingly the whole world. Its very difficult to share a physical experience on a 1.5 inch screen.


So, what does that mean for what is increasingly the first screen (mobile)? By first screen we don’t mean the one that has the highest “media time” or the biggest media ROI (not yet anyway). We mean the one people turn on when they get up. The one they check over 150 times a day?


If last year was the most social Olympics, the FIFA World Cup will blow that into oblivion. Or it would do if we had a football team half as talented, competitive and dedicated as our Olympic athletes. If you take Google trends data and look at the scale of World Cup searches vs Olympics searches over time, and acknowledge smartphone penetration to be at a meaningful level now vs the last World Cup then you have an indication about what will matter.


A 2011 CNN study (a year after the last World Cup) suggested people checked their phones 36 times a day. This year Nokia believe that number to have risen more than 4-fold in the last 3 years to 150.


Not that long ago, people danced at concerts. Now they are more worried about their battery running out and the 3G connection so that they can upload videos and pics to their friends of them all having a good time – meta-enjoyment.


This will be the crucial battleground for advertisers who want to play in next year’s World Cup. Being in the conversation, being in the moment (thanks Twitter), being in the next day round up. What we saw in the run up, during and after the Olympics were advertisers telling stories that used hashtags as meta-navigation tools: #takethetsage; #makeitcount, #shareacoke. These were used by people on social media to navigate the conversation they wanted to be part of (when they wanted to be part of it)  and to stay away from that conversation when they weren’t interested (sometimes I just want to wish my mate Dom a Happy Birthday on Facebook, not #makeitcount).

The secondary battleground will be the store not media content. A compelling store presence is crucial for the vast majority of brands. Why does this matter to a story about what is going to happen next year? Because generally store execution is very, very samey. Expect to see the hashtag become a central part of designed navigation strategies (whether people want it in there or not)


The final important battleground will be short form video. I’d hate to be misleading and call it online video, because that’s not what I mean. I mean short form. Expect to see one of the savvy broadcasters create good short form content around the World Cup, if they don’t then someone else will (YouTube creators, Contented Group, Ball Street, Talk Sport, a brand through Twitter … someone will nail this). This matters because as the mobile dominates the media opportunity around the conversation and the mobile needs short form content for simple bandwidth vs cost vs screen attention reasons.  This also matters because it brings YouTube into the equation, which will undoubtedly house millions of uploaded hours of football content around the World Cup, some professional, some horribly amateurish.


Oh, and yes, ITV and the BBC, what about them? Well the BBC nailed the Olympics didn’t they? They are very good at things like Glastonbury. But this is different and ITV have been getting their act together. And they’ve just lost the Champions League. So they have to make it work. I wouldn’t put it beyond ITV to focus beyond the actual games into the now emerged worlds of mobile and short form video and be the first broadcaster to get that properly right. Now that would make for an interesting move towards platform neutrality.


What does all this mean for advertisers? Well, the World Cup will be hellishly crowded one way or another (which is why store back integration matters).  So stand out will be very very difficult, and people do need to remember you (whether through low or high involvement processing). Our analysis of Twitter trends around the Olympics suggested that in term of overall visibility no-one really won out (although a couple of folks did lose), possibly because it was the first major global sporting event in the post-social media era so there were no learnings to be had yet. This time around things are different.


If you mean to get involved you will need an incredible idea or story. You will also need deep pockets – all this stuff isn’t free sadly, it is much more effective when promoted with bought media (the law of averages vs the algorithms vs potential reach, gives us a simple clue there) whether that be on Twitter or YouTube. Over 50% of the YT videos by the world’s top 100 brands have under 1000 views – just making stuff and expecting people to come won’t cut the mustard when the world has lots of interests, when the nation largely has one then it really isn’t going to work.


Most of all you’ll need to understand the whole system of your communications. What is it that these different elements are really doing and how are they linked. Not what do you want them to do, but how do punters use Twitter vs Facebook vs the TV.  Design for the platform – Twitter is a velocity medium that operates in the moment, that influences how to use it – I suppose ultimately this means an increased move towards native(ish) communications. Much as it pains me to say so.

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Idea of the Day: Make a map

Is it me or have people gone (more) mad for maps? In the last week I’ve been enjoying these maps particularly:

This one, from a fella who has synaesthesia, a neurological condition that means he tastes words when he reads or hears them. Fun. And brilliantly he’s mapped how the London Underground stations taste. Yum

Nike Fuel have created a rather pleasing map based on how many NikeFuels you’d earn if you walked between the tube stations rather than going underground for a nice sit down/stand up in a sweaty carriage. Clever

And lastly, for Dr. Who nerds, here’s an extraordinarily complex map of each Doctor’s multi-threaded history. Making my eyes hurt

I think a love of maps is a bit of a human truth – what’s not to love about laying out information or data in a way that helps us make sense of it? So why not have a bash at mapping your ideas, plans or data this week in a new way that makes them simple (and lovely to look at).


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Idea of the Day: Get annoyed, have an idea?

Overstay checkout from the The Art Series Hotel

This promotional idea isn’t exactly hot off the press, but it’s a great example of  a Good Idea on many levels and perhaps good stimulus for a different route into a brief you might be chewing over this week.

Firstly, it’s so simple it hurts – The Art Series Hotel in Melbourne made a feature of the fact that you don’t have to check out of your hotel room until the next customer checks in.

Secondly, and most importantly, it’s based on a human truth – and we like those. As in, it’s really very annoying to have to check out at 11am. Or even at midday if you’re as lazy as I am.

Thirdly, some clever bod has worked out that while people might not be paying for room occupancy, at least they’ve got money coming in on other hotel services…so they’ve reframed their business objectives, with great results.

So why not try being an annoyed punter this week and write down all the things that you’d change about the product or service you’re working on if you could and see where it takes you…

Watch the case study here




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Idea of the day: Make everyone a teacher

This is not really a comms idea, but an interesting use of technology.

Google developed the video Hangout system to fit within Circles, but since that has proved.. less popular than Facebook, they have looked elsewhere for ways of using it – and monetising it.

They are about to launch Helpouts, a system of trading micropayments for advice & tutoring. This is potentially very clever move because it plays directly to Google’s biggest strength, their enormous search ranking network. Think about it: next time you’re searching for a recipe, or a tutorial on how to service your bike – would you pay a small amount to connect live with someone who can show you how to do it?


Two thoughts on this spring to mind; one is the role for brands in this, and the other is the potential for education.

Brands first – it’s potentially a readymade way of revolutionising contact with customers. Google know where you are, what device you’re on and various other sundry information. If Audi could receive a small part of that data, then when you next type in ‘Audi service cost’ you could find yourself talking to your nearest dealer, and maybe even showing them the problem with your phone. Equally, it could be an interesting space for content delivery; why not invite Galaxy’s expert reviewer to your next book club to suggest the next book? Or have a Lucozade analyst assess your team’s training performance?

Education – think about this in context with Mark Zuckerberg’s new project, (or watch the rather straight-faced video about it here), which is about bringing the connecting power of the internet to the next several billion people in the developing world. Helpouts could be an amazing powerful way to allow thousands of people in the developed world to donate their time & expertise as community teachers, or connect promising students with illustrious educational institutions they could never otherwise attend.

What would a direct connection to their customers enable your client to do?

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Idea of the day: Pick your best idea, then execute all of them

Coca Cola in Israel have done an interesting thing. As part of the global (or at least multi-market) idea of personalisation, just like everyone else they have received the centrally-funded tech to create personalised bottles. No doubt you might have heard some mention of this campaign in the UK.

Usually at this point they (and their agencies) would have a stretch session, come up with a load of ideas about how to activate this, and then pick the best one and sink the budget into it.

But instead they have backed a whole raft of different ideas activating the same thing. I’ve found three so far, and I suspect there are others to come. Each one of these is the sort of campaign masthead that clients usually put into play one at a time:

Personalised road – using a simple app, digitised posters recognise people and put their name up as they get near.

Social-powered robot – as a way of extending the footprint of their sponsored beach party thing, they have built a robot that people can take control of via social channels, and go for a wander (warning: slightly odd video).

Mini-me – win a 3D printed version of yourself via an app contest, to launch the new mini sized bottles (but keeping within the brand theme of personalisation).

Obviously rolling the dice (at least) three times like this requires the budget to do so, but it would be interesting to know if these multiple innovations had a cumulative effect on brand perception greater than the individual parts.

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