Even the unlikeliest marketers, including a bread company called Bimbo, are forging soccer connections. The bread maker's spot by Legion Advertising, Dallas, places a well-known Mexican soccer player in the middle of a wheat field. Through special effects, it is transformed into a soccer field.
"The Latino consumer is passionate about soccer and in particular the World Cup ... so we intend to be everywhere the consumer is looking for the World Cup," said Henry Dominguez, VP-Latino marketing for Anheuser-Busch.
Anheuser-Busch will even be there when fans aren't seeking soccer or beer. New this year, A-B will take shoppers' pictures at places like the supermarket and immediately print out pictures that make them look as though they're in the team photo of the Mexican national team. "We're trying to do different innovative things with technology and with our overall media plan to engage the consumer and just be part of his whole World Cup experience," Mr. Dominguez said.
One of A-B's Hispanic agencies, LatinWorks, Austin, Texas, took a humorous look in a TV spot at why the Mexican national team historically loses the game when it's tied and players have to do penalty kicks.
"It's an insider view," said Sergio Alcocer, LatinWork's president-chief creative. "It's the brand understanding the mind-set of the fan. We understand your agony when the penalty kick comes."
A-B is the official global beer sponsor of the World Cup, and sponsors both the U.S. and Mexican teams. In the U.S. Hispanic market, one of the big sponsorship opportunities is with Univision. The Spanish-language broadcaster has signed up 26 marketers to its pricey TV and online sponsorship packages that include the games, all of which are being broadcast and often rerun on one or more of Univision's three TV channels, and related soccer programming. Univision's World Cup sponsors include Dominos Pizza, T-Mobile, AT&T, Home Depot and Microsoft's Xbox.
Some sponsorships are less formal, like Volkswagen positioning itself as the official car of soccer fans. For the World Cup, VW is focusing on the Jetta model, which is popular with Hispanics. The car will be featured on NBC Universal-owned Telemundo, the No. 2 Spanish-language network, as Karim Mandiburu, host of Telemundo's sports program "Ritmo Deportivo" drives the car around World Cup host country Germany.
'A natural connection'
"We chose to get involved with the World Cup this year, not only because it's a big sporting event for Hispanics, but also because it happens to take place in Germany, so there is a natural connection between Germany and Volkswagen," said Daniel Marrero, partner-creative director of Creative On Demand, Coral Gables, Fla.
Retailers are being imaginative about designating products as World Cup essentials. Wal-Mart is positioning itself in TV, radio, print and out-of-home ads as soccer central: for the plasma TV to watch the game, team jerseys to wear, and chips and salsa as game snacks, said Lalo Wakefield, director of creative-strategic integration at Lopez Negrete Communications, Houston.
Home Depot's campaign by the Vidal Partnership, New York, themed "Tu casa es tu cancha" ("Your home is your playing field"), aims to help consumers improve their homes to be ready to watch the games with friends and family. And the retailer is sponsoring vignettes on Univision featuring great moments from past World Cups in which assists led to spectacular goals, reinforcing the retailer's slogan "You can do it. We can help."
The anti-World Cup ads
There are even World Cup ads for people who hate the World Cup. Vidal combined two insights in one Heineken spot: Latinos from the Caribbean are baseball -- not soccer -- fans, and women usually don't remain glued to the game like the men do. In the spot, a Puerto Rican asks his game-watching friends from soccer countries -- Colombia, Argentina, Mexico --what the score is. They point out that Puerto Rico doesn't have a soccer team. He grabs a six-pack of Heineken and is welcomed by women hanging out in the backyard.
A World Cup spot for Microsoft's Xbox 360 by Casanova Pendrill, Costa Mesa, Calif., is also running in Europe and South America. Playing off the tradition of players swapping jerseys after a game, two men in the stands switch shirts, then everyone starts trading tops in a frenzy. The camera pans out to show the circular shape of the stadium, emulating the 360 degrees of the Xbox 360.