The soccer bug could finally be coming to North America. This summer, the U.S. will host its biggest soccer event since the 1994 World Cup—Copa America Centenario. The tournament includes sixteen countries from North, Central, and South America, and will be played in ten major U.S. markets. In addition to several of soccer’s premier countries, the tournament will feature many of the world’s most influential athletes—Messi, Neymar, and Chicharito headline a long list of global soccer icons.
A Big Opportunity
Copa America Centenario has marketers chomping at the bit. Traditionally, the event has provided unmatched access to Hispanic audiences. The tournament features many major Hispanic nationalities including the dominant Mexican audience. According to John Guppy of Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing, Univision has predicted that TV ratings for the event will exceed those of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
However, as Guppy points out, this year’s tournament extends well beyond the Hispanic market, noting that Americans are known for their interest in the “big event.” All factors point to the perfect storm for relevancy in the U.S. market during this summer’s tournament: Participation the world’s best teams and players, a chance for USMNT to compete at the highest level, and the tournament’s first-ever appearance on U.S. soil are just a few components providing massive promise for Copa America marketers.
In a recent article with Forbes’ Darren Heitner, Guppy emphasized the broad reach of the tournament, “The fact the tournament is taking place in the U.S. is a game-changer. For brands it’s not just about TV and digital engagements, it’s an opportunity for in-person consumer experiences in major markets. Some brands might be thinking Copa America Centenario is just a Hispanic event. That’s like saying Pitbull’s music is only for Hispanics. The beautiful thing about this event is that it will attract every kind of soccer fan. Hispanic, general market, hardcore and casual.”
Activating Star Power
Super Bowl 50 averaged just under 112 million television viewers. The 2014 World Cup Final set a U.S. TV record with 26.5 million viewers. Across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the top ten players in Copa America can reach more than 750 million fans. That’s a lot of influence. These players have more direct access to their fans via social media than broadcast networks, their teams, and their sponsors.
In 2014, Facebook’s Glenn Miller stated that, “of the 1.3 billion-plus people on Facebook, 500 million are hardcore football fans.”
Expect the event’s marketing to follow this influence. While there will be no shortage of traditional advertising, we look to the tournament’s sophisticated marketers to integrate and amplify their campaigns through these stars on social media. The influence and infrastructure is there to activate these athletes. Now marketers just need to create effective, authentic content.