Fox Sports has launched its biggest marketing campaign in the network’s history ahead of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar, which begins on Sunday.
The company initiated a variety of activations nationwide, many of which will continue throughout the duration of the tournament.
This year, for the first time in the history of the World Cup, the tournament will take place in the usual summer in autumn. The transition to an already packed sports board presents a unique challenge for the broadcaster and led to the development of the marketing campaign ‘Tis the FIFA World Cup’.
“In the beginning, when you start strategizing, you can’t really sell a football tournament from a broad network perspective and a wide reach. It will appeal to more regular football fans, but for something along the lines of a World Cup you have to sell something broader than a football tournament,” said Robert Gottlieb, recently promoted to Fox Sports’ president of marketing.
That’s the purpose of the campaign, which started in July with a spot featuring Jon Hamm as Santa Claus. Two follow-up spots – starring Tom Brady, Mariah Carey, the US Men’s National Team, Ellie Kemper and more – were released in the fall.
In addition to traditional media buys across broadcast, print, online and social, Fox Sports is investing more dollars than usual in out-of-home marketing, which Gottlieb attributes to the timing of many key games.
Television is where we can scale this activation and messages
Robert Gottlieb, Fox Sports
The custom designed OOH posters will be strategically placed to recognize that many people will not be at home during the games.
“Probably the most strategic shift in traditional media buying is the time zone thing,” Gottlieb said. “[People] will be in the office, going about their lives. We split up in a way we wouldn’t normally do at outdoor digital kiosks in big cities.”
There will be live, real-time kiosks in New York showing the game is in progress, with the game clock, score and a call to download the app and watch live.
Outside of traditional media, Fox Sports runs a number of campaigns across the country, with activations aimed at scaling and growing audiences.
“Our media budgets are not what a giant, multi-global brand would be,” Gottlieb said. “We really need to get demonstrable value out of everything we do. If we can build something that is very visual in nature, we can turn it into something that can be shown on TV, and on TV we can scale that activation and messaging.”
For the first time, the network will have a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade-themed balloon named Striker, the US soccer star.
NBC has the broadcast rights to the parade — and also to the US Spanish-language show, which airs on Telemundo and Peacock — but the two companies have worked together to get Striker involved in the celebrations.
“It was a weak discussion because the parade is obviously aired on NBC and is closely associated with NBC and this company,” Gottlieb said. “We have a very good working relationship with NBC. We share so many qualities.”
Fox Sports is installing World Cup snow globes in various cities across the US, also with the intention of increasing the scale.
The first snow globes appeared during Game 6 of the World Series earlier this month and will be seen at the Chiefs vs. Chargers game on Sunday and at the Space Needle in Seattle. Fans can also see the globes at the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game in Michigan, Ohio on November 26 and at the Pac-12 and B1G championship games in December, as well as at several other locations.
“By dropping a snow globe outside of a college football game, you’re hitting 50,000 people on the spot, but then you can put it on the broadcast and reach 2 million more people,” Gottlieb said.
“Activation is becoming something scalable. TV is probably the widest and easiest button to scale,” he added, noting that counting on something to go viral on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok is difficult.
Influencers are promoting the World Cup wearing custom made ‘ugly’ Christmas sweaters that tie in with the holiday theme.
To attract casual fans, Fox Sports Watch parties of major games are held in Times Square and the Port Authority of New York City.
“There’s a huge amount of commuters who go through the Port Authority twice a day to have an activation [there] will really help, like, ‘Oh, the game is on,’ and then hopefully once they get to the office they’ll pick up their phone and see the rest,” Gottlieb said.
There will also be a partnership with betting game Fox Super 6 for a $1 million bracket challenge – the first time Fox Super 6 will be able to use it in the Men’s World Championship.
“This is a good way to introduce the Super 6 brand to our World Cup effort,” Gottlieb said, adding that it’s another entry point for casual fans.
What about advertising?
Fox Sports has yet to provide an update on how much ad inventory remains at the World Cup.
Telemundo previously announced that its pre-kickoff World Cup ad sales were “record revenue” with just a handful of units remaining.
And over in Qatar, FIFA did a U-turn this morning two days before the start of the tournament, announcing that no alcoholic beer will be sold within the eight stadiums of Qatar 2022 World Cup. That could be a problem for sponsor Budweiser, which has a $75 million sponsorship deal.