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by Gillian
on June 25, 2014

It is estimated that a billion people around the world tuned in to watch Brazil play Croatia in the opening game of the World Cup. That means that, whether you like it or not, you know that the World Cup is now in full swing.

Whether you're a fairweather fan or a rabid supporter of what the rest of the world calls Football, we can learn a thing or two from this massive event. And no, we don't just mean teamwork and perseverance (although it takes a lot of both to run around for 90 minutes in the rainforest and still end up in a 0-0 tie, but I digress).

  1. We Can Benefit from a Global Perspective
    The majority of the time, the U.S. pays very little attention to soccer. The average attendance at a Major League Soccer game in the U.S. hovers around 18,000. Across the Atlantic, the average attendance at a game for English Premier League's Manchester United stands at more than 75,000. Considering that the U.S. has more than three times as many people as the U.K., it's easy to see that football is much more important there.But what does that mean for marketing? Sometimes when we assess and create marketing strategies, we can get too focused on a certain demographic. Often this means marketing towards our existing customers. If we instead turn our attentions outwards, to our potential customers, we may be able to open up a whole new world of possibilities. Every year we might go around saying "no one cares about soccer" but that's not true. Maybe the people we talk to everyday don't care, but there are plenty of people out there that care about soccer more than their lives. As marketers, we should take risks and seek out those potential customers that are outside of our everyday circle. We could tap into something amazing!
  2. Be Prepared for Negative Press
    Hosting the World Cup in Brazil, a country that is well known for its rabid devotion to football seems like a no brainer. Unfortunately for the country's administration, there was extensive turmoil and upheaval in the weeks and months leading up to the cup. Furious locals pointed to mismanaged funds, ludicrous amounts spent on new stadiums that may never be used again and shouted FIFA Go Home, demanding government spending on poverty and local issues rather than football. While the protestors did not win, they certainly drew a good deal of negative press to the event that in many cases overshadowed any positive stories leading up to the World Cup.There's no clear answer in this particular situation, since the World Cup is already well underway, but we can learn the always be prepared for the negative impact big changes, big campaigns, and big risks can have. Rather than ignoring or attempting to silence detractors, we can often be better off meeting them collaboratively and trying to find a solution that works for everyone before the protests (whether they are physical or social media-based) erupt.
  3. Never Underestimate Fancy Footwork
    Our partners over at Hubspot released a list of 8 Brands That Totally Nailed Their World Cup Ads, and you can bet a chunk of them featured some awesome soccer (fine, FOOTBALL) footage. From David Beckham playing indoors with his fellow soccer superstars for Adidas to the McDonald's collage of trick shots and surprising footballers, the best ads are those that really make us stop in amazement at what these athletes can do.Of course, in marketing we rarely get a chance to demonstrate our actual footwork (except at the annual SXSW mambo competition of course) but our work still has the power to awe, when done right. If we can put together a campaign that is surprising and inspiring, and then get it into the hands of the right audience, we can make a difference.

Are you watching the World Cup? Have you learned any lessons from it? Let us know in the comments.