With more than a million football fans expected to visit Qatar during the FIFA World Cup, an array of brands and tech companies are hoping to score well beyond the Middle East in various parts of the metaverse. .
The month-long tournament, which kicks off this weekend, will be the first World Cup since it was held in Russia in 2018 long before “Web3” entered the global lexicon. Now, official and unofficial sponsors are hoping to tap into the hype with a range of NFTs, virtual worlds, augmented reality tools and other trendy technologies, like linear TV and traditional social media. on the decline.
The collaborations are almost as diverse as the teams in the tournament. For example, in a new World Cup ad from Adidas, a character from the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT appears alongside soccer stars Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema. Meanwhile, other brands like Visa, crypto exchange Crypto.com and Swiss watchmaker Hublot are helping fans create digital art or explore virtual stadiums as they experiment with new platforms. as part of their Qatar 2022 marketing efforts.
When it comes to testing new technologies, the World Cup might be a better bet than some other sports. According to Kantar’s survey of 29,500 football fans in 31 major global markets, football fans were more likely than the global average to seek out new experiences, make friends via the internet and buy the latest technology . They also tend to have higher incomes, build a slightly younger audience, identify as early adopters, and use television or video streaming.
The integrations are signs that many brands are still open to exploring new technologies to stand out from matches during the month-long global event. Chris Ross, marketing analyst at Gartner, said the merging of factors and the disruption of social platforms like Twitter — often used at major events for advertising and organic content — are driving marketers to explore beyond their usual channels.
“There may be some desire for marketers to experiment with other channels as a result of what’s happening with Twitter,” Ross said. “Maybe just to experiment and take full advantage, but they can also hedge their bets.”
Rather than just reaching people with temporary videos and ads, other tech platforms hope to create new ways for fans to interact virtually and in real life. Upland, a virtual global platform created to look like Earth, has partnered with FIFA to create NFT collections, host digital and in-person viewing parties around the world, and show off exclusive video clips. Upland and FIFA have also created a replica of Qatar’s Lusail Stadium which will include villages, showrooms and branded stores.
According to Upland co-founder and co-CEO Dirk Lueth, the goal is for Upland to give football fans “context to talk” beyond scrolling through videos and text in social media feeds. traditional. This includes talking about the game, the digital items they buy, and exploring parts of various virtual worlds. “I think that’s the future of social media: providing that context where people are looking for it,” Lueth said.
Rather than creating NFTs and metaverses, the Gen Z-focused sports community platform Stadium Live wants to be a second-screen destination for fans to chat live during games. Until recently, the app – which has 150,000 monthly active users – focused on other sports. However, he recently received funding from football star Blaise Matuidi and is teaming up with players Matuidi, Yohan Cabeye and Miralem Pjanić to create videos, create avatars and give away pixelated branded items based on the French and Bosnian players. .
“Brands are starting to recognize that their fan base is no longer as responsive to traditional marketing as it used to be,” said Mathieu Bilodeau, Marketing Director for Stadium Live. “It’s one of the first World Cups since the Fortnight became big. A lot of these brands recognize that sports fans can be music fans, sports fans can be art fans, fashion fans, gaming fans in particular – these two sectors are extremely aligned.
Gaming companies are also developing ways to participate in the World Cup. FIFA recently signed a multi-year partnership with Roblox. Nike teams up with motorsport game ‘Rocket League’ and Activision teams up with Brazilian Neymar Jr, Frenchman Paul Pogba and Argentinian Lionel Messi to make ‘Call of Duty’ players look like football stars inside the popular first-person game. shooter.
Augmented reality will also play a role this year. On Wednesday, Snap Inc. announced a range of AR features for Snapchatters during the World Cup. Along with new global AR lenses for a number of national teams, Snap is also using the tournament to launch its new “live apparel transfer” technology with Adidas to allow people to virtually try on shirts to see what they look like. look alike on users based on their body type. World Cup partners also include Peacock, which will allow users to track stats and use other visual and audio AR lenses, as well as Chevrolet and Samsung. (Snapchat has also developed a new interactive AR football game specifically for users in the Middle East.)
The World Cup is also a way for Snap to market itself in one of the first major events since announcing a major overhaul in September that places AR as one of the top three areas of focus.
“The World Cup and the Olympics are the two biggest global events,” said Clayton Peters, Snap’s U.S. vertical markets manager. “So that allows us to bring a total global community into some of these new products, get feedback and immediately understand how things work. Not just in one or two key markets, but for a truly global world with 32 competing teams and billions of sports interested eyeballs.