Avoid media nostalgia and get the most of the World Cup

30 May 2018  |  Simon White 
Avoid media nostalgia and get the most of the World Cup

A certain naivety seems to fall over marketers when the World Cup is looming, writes VCCP's Simon White - don't miss out on opportunities due to misguided fears

Once again, the World Cup has emerged on the horizon and as we in the media world steadily approach it, I can’t help feel a bit of nostalgia. But it’s not nostalgia in terms of the opening bars of Three Lions, shots of face-painted fans waving flags, or visions of England players, head-in-hands having messed up another penalty shoot-out.

It’s worse than that. It’s a kind of media-nostalgia.

A certain naivety seems to fall over even the most astute and furtively minded marketers when something big, especially a World Cup is looming, and the deja-vu is setting in again when questions arise like “should we be advertising during the World Cup period, people will be too distracted?” Or “won’t everything be too expensive?” We need to realise that just because it’s a big event, consumer behaviour, or our ability to target them, is not going to change that much.

We need to take a step back and think about the customer journey when answering the question on whether to advertise when the World Cup is going on. I’m a big football fan. My team, Liverpool were in the European Cup Final on 26th May (I had to get that in somewhere!) and granted, when I got up that morning I felt a mixture of fear and excitement, I'm still pretty sure it didn’t give me advert-blindness when I looked at Facebook, turned on the TV, or walked to the pub to watch the game. Just like any other consumer out there.

Similarly, during the World Cup, people will be excited about the event, but even the most hardened football fans will not be physically able to watch more than 3 matches in a day, so probably about 6 hours in a day of World Cup on TV.

There will be very few people doing this but even those who do will still be able to consume media for the remaining 10 hours of the day that the average UK citizen is awake. And if we can’t target them within that massive window, we need to reconsider what we are doing.

We also need to think about the effect a major tournament like this doesn’t have on people. In the UK in 2014, 15 million people watched the World Cup Final - the most watched game of the tournament. So that also means 45 million people didn’t watch it.

The most watched England match was the defeat to Uruguay on ITV on 19th June, where 14 million tuned in. But the following night, with an 8pm kick-off time, Switzerland vs. France’s Adults viewing figures never reached the 1 million mark, showing the World Cup hardly affects a thing when England aren’t playing.

Another consideration is people’s media behaviour during the World Cup, if they are a fan and consumed with a month-long obsession of football. They’ll be looking for the latest news and updates, they will be all over social media, accessing apps for the latest information, and watching highlights and gossip on TV and listening to the radio.

In other words, they will be consuming media from various sources, in a far less passive way than usual, due to the context. Non-fans will be consuming media in the same way they always do, with the exception of watching a little bit less ITV than normal.

There’s another question that the speculators come up with - “won’t everything become more expensive during the World Cup?” The answer is not really, no. A World Cup Final spot might be pricey if England ever get their penalty kicks right and get there again, but in the meantime it’s likely there will be value to be got from the less male-biased media outlets in the industry.

Current predictions show that younger and more male audiences prices will be deflationary, due to the high amount of impacts out there for these audiences.

The average ITV Station price inflation across June-July sits at about 5-10% depending on which audience you look at - not a massive hike considering it’s World Cup time, and deals will be available on other stations.

A big event like this is an opportunity. It’s best to nostalgically look back at the way you targeted engaged fans in the right environments, or how you took advantage of a great airtime price deal for something outside of the football, rather than another summer of missed opportunity due to misguided fear.

Simon White is broadcast performance director, VCCP Media

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19 Jul 2019 

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