The Starting 11 – the essential mobile-marketing guide for the 2010 FIFA World Cup

mobiThinking asked: How will savvy brands use mobile marketing to take advantage of the FIFA World Cup? and received back a volley of excellent submissions. From these mobiThinking has hand-picked the Starting 11 – the top tips to make sure your brand scores with customers in South Africa and any other major sporting event.

1. The beautiful game
Whether your brand hopes to tap into the US$600 billion-a-year sports-tourism industry (according to FIFA) or wants to connect with the majority of fans who will follow the event just as passionately from afar, mobile is a critical channel.
The importance of mobile to football fans couldn’t be better illustrated than by South Africa’s biggest selling men’s magazine Soccer-Laduma, where the mobile site – – is much bigger than the Website and is growing rapidly. Why? Many football fans don’t have computers at work or home, so if they access Soccer-Laduma over the Web, it’s via mobile.
Sports events are social events and for fans everywhere the mobile phone is the essential line of communication with like-minded friends. But for travelling supporters – will any fan arrive in South Africa without a mobile? – it really comes into its element: “There’s a real hunger for information at events like the World Cup, as people are out of their comfort zone and locality and need assistance. It’s a great example of when advertising is actually seen by consumers as something useful and not an obstruction. Mobile’s unique qualities can enable brands to provide relevant services when they are most needed,” explains Nokia Interactive Advertising’s Hugh Mark.
Contributors: Diogo Peral, Soccer-Laduma; Hugh Mark, Nokia Interactive Advertising; Chris Whitfield,

2. No foul play
Mobile campaigns require discipline, both in approach and execution.
Start with the basics: how are you going to reach the audience; why is your message, competition, service etc relevant to them; and what reaction do you expect from the consumer?
The rules of engagement:
* Only target customers who opt in and give them a chance to opt out.
* Use profiling to ensure the message is relevant.
* Ensure advertising is non intrusive, such as in-game advertising.
* Keep cost to the consumer at a minimum. NB: we’re told the charges for roaming in South Africa are among the most expensive in the world.
* Follow the Mobile Marketing Association Guidelines
Contributors: Juan Antonio Muñoz-Gallego, Unkasoft; Martin Wilson, Indigo 102

3. Make yourself useful
Both fans who travel to South Africa and those that remain overseas present an opportunity for your brand to sponsor information services, aka branded utility, from SMS alerts or full mobile sites for the latest goal, team news or interviews. “This alert is brought to you by…”
In addition, travelling fans will appreciate tourist information, including location of venues, restaurants etc. This can be helped by partnering with local providers, including a directory information service.
Ericsson was one of the pioneers, launching a mobile site with match news and tourist information for visitors to Euro 2000 (soccer championship for European Nations), with sponsors including Dutch mobile operator Telfort.
With the Passport to Greatness, Guinness took this one step further at the 2007 Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. As well as match schedules, city guide, plus good bars to drink a Guinness, the mobile application vocalized essential phrases in Cantonese, to help visitors ‘speak’ to taxi drivers etc.
Brands that like to be at the cutting edge, should look at IBM’s Seer application for Wimbledon 2009. Using a technology called augmented reality, as a visitor points their camera phone at an object, text telling them about it – so pointing the phone at a court to be told who is playing. The application got IBM a lot of coverage in mainstream press around the world.
Find out more here: Even better than the real thing: how augmented reality brings the mobile Web to life for brands and consumers
Contributors: Fraser White, Motorola; David Doherty, 3G Doctor; Martin Ashfield, 118 Tracker

4. Free delivery
However excellent your service, your customer will not thank you for expensive data, especially travelling supporters returning home to find expensive roaming charges added to their bill. Advertisers/publishers can often pre-pay data fees under ‘sender-pays’ or ‘zero-rated-data’ schemes. Free-to-the-user shortcodes are also possible. Meanwhile networks could forego roaming charges (perhaps as a sponsored deal).
For Euro 2008, Puma added a new dimension – the free teleconference. Fans (of the 16 competing countries) who signed up on the mobile site for goal alerts, coupons etc, could invite 10 friends (anywhere) to join them, then each time the team scored, they would be conferenced together for free.
Contributors: Azlina Azman, Phonevalley

5. Bluetooth
If you wish to target customers in particular places where fans congregate, both at the event and at home – the stadiums, stations, airports, town centers etc – then Bluetooth is an excellent way to deliver without any cost to the consumer.
This tip from Jonathan Bass, Incentivated: “Book the available Bluetooth media in all the World Cup stadiums now… before it sells out! The clever brand will own the venues by buying up all available slots. This is unlimited content distribution, free-to-user and can drive traffic to mobile sites to download applications and collect opt-in subscribers.”
Assuming the South African stadiums operate Bluetooth transmitters on revenue share, as is common with clubs in the UK Premiership, for example, the client buys ‘media space’ on a cost-per-click or download basis. If there are 50,000 people in the stadium, expect 25 percent to have Bluetooth turned on, and of these 30 percent might click to download the content to their mobile i.e. 4,000 engagements per match at a few pence each. That’s a lot less than the cost of buying poster space inside and outside the stadium.
Bluetooth may also be available in places where people ‘dwell’, such as stations. If it isn’t available in a prime location, consider using an interactive billboard.
At Euro 2008 Adidas set up Bluetooth distribution boxes in Fan Zones in host cities in Austria and Switzerland, where travelling fans could download branded-content, while stay-at-home-fans could download it at the local Adidas store. This included a virtual soccer game to play with your friends, connecting to their phone by Bluetooth, where you are transported to the European Cup and play in the latest Adidas boots.
Contributors: Jonathan Bass, Incentivated; Christina Buck, Barney Loehnis, Isobar; Tim Jones, Blismobile Media; Jon Fletcher, Bluepod Media

6. Get promoted
A successful mobile campaign depends on an effective call to action. The common way to do this is to publish a shortcode in print, billboards, radio, Web, TV: “Text 1234 for you chance to win tickets to the World Cup”. Promote your campaign by advertising on mobile sites targeted at World Cup fans – whether those are sports sites, tourist information services, such as, as well as World Cup micro-sites expected from all the mobile portals.
Many of the more successful campaigns, such as Guinness Passport to Greatness and Fly the Flag for Football (see below) have a strong viral marketing element that helps to spread the word.
Increasingly brands also use quick-response (QR) codes (a 2D barcode-type image) to promote the campaign in print or outdoor promotion. When this code is detected by a camera phone (assuming it has the appropriate application installed), the consumer is hyperlinked direct to a mobile site. A clever suggestion was to promote QR codes on replica shirts and other branded kit.
Contributors:; Greg Hickman, ThumbFound

7. Competitions
From World Cup tickets and signed kit, to m-coupons and mobile content, competitions can offer any reward, and provide them through innumerable formats. All those traditional sweepstakes and competitions that fans of all sports and gamblers adore, e.g. guess the winner/score, are as perfectly suited to mobile, as more sophisticated – even mobile-only – formats that appeal to the more techie or gamers, with the latest smartphone.
Sometime the most simple are the most effective. Anyone with a camera phone could participate in Vodafone’s penalty shoot-out. The advertisement pictures a goal. Your team needs you to score to win the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final:
“Pick your spot by centering your phone’s camera on where you want to aim, take a picture and send it to 88247. Bag a goal and you could find yourself at the UEFA Champions League Final in Moscow next May.”
Note that carefully crafted trivia competition helps a brand to profile participants. However if the inducements are right visitors will happily visit your mobile site, register their mobile number, fill out profiles and refer friends…
A recent campaign to get the country behind the South African team in the run up to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup (soccer competition for African nations), the International Marketing Council of South Africa launched, invited by SMS people to click through to the mobile site for the chance to win tickets to the matches. The response/click-through rate was 72 percent. Now the Confederations Cup is completed, The International Marketing Council (IMC) of South Africa, who organized the promotion, has now switched the focus of the campaign to the World Cup.
Competitions that keep the customer engaged throughout the competition are particularly effective. Look how NBC runs its March Madness basketball competition – the rules make particularly interesting reading.
Contributors: Murat Mutlu, Mobile Inc; Julie Davis, IC Group; Sean Pashley, Starfish Mobile – see this interview; Steve Mills, Aqua Media Direct; Kunal Wadhwani, Planman Consulting

8. Loyalty
Sponsored games – aka advergames – particularly, can be designed to encourage consumers to buy more products, perhaps by hiding clues or codes that translate to virtual money on product packaging. A concept submitted by One Shoe Mobile brings the popular online game Soccer Manager to the mobile. Essential to the role of every manager is the money to buy new players. By adding QR codes to cans of drink that can be redeemed on the mobile site for virtual cash, the consumer’s loyalty helps him progress in the game.
Rewards can also be used to help spread awareness of mobile promotion itself. In the spectacularly successful campaign The World’s Worst War for Japanese snack Tohato, participants were promoted through the ranks as they introduced more combatants to the game.
Contributors: One Shoe Mobile

9. Giveaways
Branded content has always been a big hit with sports fans. Wallpapers, ringtones, screensavers are common as downloads and presents to be sent to friends. Branding content for the idle-screen, which shows each time the phone is turned on, is a more recent opportunity for advertisers.
The Nike wake-up call campaign helped to bring the marketing world’s attention to the power of novelty alerts, ringtones, ring-back tones etc delivered in famous athletes’ voices.
Branded content plays an increasingly important part of many mobile social-networking sites and virtual worlds. Potential sponsors of World Cup content will be welcomed at Flirtomatic, for example.
Video content – match highlights, goals as they happen and interviews with big stars – lend itself well to sponsorship and/or advertising. While handset technology and advanced networks has made high-quality video viable, unlimited data plans are still only for the privileged, so brands should consider options to deliver video free or at minimal cost.
One novel suggestion for in-obtrusive advertising in video was placing a brands logo on the ball.
Contributors: Nathan Salisbury, Footytube; Laura Harvestine, Kohl’s Department Stores; Aamer Shuja, Mobilink; Nancy Ahola, Pikkoo

10. Playing the game
“Advergaming is the big opportunity. Anything around the FIFA tournament suggests plenty of gaming opportunities to allow fans to engage, including fantasy leagues, guess-the-scores, virtual gaming with user-generated avatars and so forth,” says mobile guru Tomi Ahonen.
The Adidas Euro 2008 campaign included a virtual soccer game transports you to the Euro Cup, where you play in the latest Adidas boots. By hooking up with to other phones via Bluetooth, your friends join in the game.
To get an idea of what is possible, see the extensive catalogue of free and ad-supported mobile games and applications at Greystripe’s GameJump.
Contributors: Tomi Ahonen – see this interview; Angus Robinson Brandsh

11. Twitter
If teams and players can have official mobile sites, with alerts, games and applications to download then why not Twitter feeds?
“My number one tip would be that Twitter will form a massive global back-channel during the World Cup. Especially live feeds during games. Hash tags allow you to follow tweets on any game or team or player. If I was a sponsor I’d try to own some of the top player’s tweets or some other feed that became RT’d,” advises Flirtomatic’s Mark Curtis. [Note: RT means “retweet”, which is to repeat/quote someone’s tweet in your own].
Contributors: Mark Curtis, Flirtomatic

What are your tips for making the most from mobile at sporting events? Comment below or email editor (at)

Don’t miss:

  • Insider’s guide to mobile Web marketing in South Africa
  • The Thinking Mobile Conference (August 20, 2009, Joburg, South Africa): special offer for mT readers
  • Mike Wehrs: the mobiThinking interview
  • Even better than the real thing: how augmented reality brings the mobile Web to life for brands and consumers
  • The Top Ten mobiThinkers 2009
  • mobiThinking’s page of essential links
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