As marketers remix their Communications Mix and shift resources generally towards Social Media the question emerges:  ‘at what point does social media become less effective?’ Perhaps this World Cup is the turning point as brands compete as publishers, as sponsors and advertisers try to dominate the discussions, the awareness and preference levels and, ultimately sales.

Heads Concrete Heads 2

What Are The Benefits Of Owned Earned & Paid Media?

Owned media, or own channels, such as your web site, your you tube channel or twitter stream give you a certain amount of control over your message. Earned Media means engagement which means Word Of Mouth (or mouse) generated by discussions, likes, shares all triggered by your content. Going viral to a marketer is arguably akin to winning a World Cup Medal for a footballer but with little control over your message. While ‘Paid media’, whether banner ads, pay per click ads, promoted posts, promoted tweets or, some argue, sponsorship offers more control and can be much faster way to spread a message.


More Free Content = More Expensive Attention

If all brands become content publishers and engage in conversations simultaneously, surely this makes it more difficult  to grab attention?

More Content = Less Attention

More Free Content = More Expensive Attention


If owned and earned keep taking a larger share of the comms mix, at what point does it become less effective? The World Cup has generated a frenzy of high quality content. Why? I think the potentially powerful viral component of reaching out and connecting with customers via, an emotionally charged, shared experience, tempts a lot of marketers to become publishers.


Connecting via An Emotionally Charged Shared Experience

Youtube executives talk about Viral Videos have always having a ‘shared experience’ component whether this means riding the right trend, mood, public holiday or major event.  The World Cup has elevated ‘notions of connectedness and shared experiences to new levels’ (Alex Benady)


Biggest Twitter Event In History

With brands spending over $1b on sponsorship (paid) and a lot more on content (owned) you can see how competitive it’s going to be  particularly as Twitter (earned) suggest the World Cup can be the biggest twitter event in history (Lewis Wiltshire, head of global partnerships at Twitter UK).



Leveraging Sponsorship Spend By 100%

Sponsors leverage the impact of their events by supporting it with advertising, sales promotions, PR, content generation and social media and more (usually requiring matched funding i.e. spend £1m on sponsorship you need to spend another £1m supporting it). Coca Cola have been known to leverage sponsorship 14 times over!

Football 3Non sponsoring brands will compete via Paid, Owned and Earned media with a lot of effort towards the deeper, more engaging ‘owned’ conversations.  As viral marketing is unpredictable some of the brand publishers (content generators) will push a lot of content through their owned channels (and some paid channels) and hope they get lucky and go viral. They increase their chances by monitoring trends, reflecting those trends with key phrases & relevant content and of course seeding their content amongst influencers.  Adidas has prepared 100+ videos to be released via social media (owned but hoping at least one will become seriously ‘earned media’ and go viral).

Ironically, a Northern Ireland Road Safety ad went viral after it was shown (paid) at half time in the England v Uruguay game. I’ll write a separate post about this shocking viral video’s success (which certainly shares an unwanted emotional experience).


War Rooms Own & Earn

Marketers want Earned Media so much now that they build their own brand ‘war-rooms’ with teams of highly trained and well equipped social media professionals ready and primed to steadily release content (owned), respond to conversations (earned), react to external relevant events (e.g. Suarez Bite) and also react to  unwanted ‘earned’ conversations from critics, protestors, moaners and hyper competitors who can all hijack hashtags (dominate discussions on specific topics linked together by specific hashtags) and subvert posts with negative comments.  Constant monitoring is essential 24/7 as global & local brands have global audiences.

In addition to its 100+ videos, Adidas has a team of 50 in Rio including legal, marketing and FIFA teams to help expedite approvals of new content or reactions/rebuttals.


Initial Results 27 June 2014  Please note these figures will be adjusted.

Youtube World Cup Ad/s Facebook Page Likes Twitter Followers
Nike 70m 35m 1.8m
Adidas 36m 17m 1m

Please note we will update these figures on an ongoing basis. Please do send us stats if you have any (please list your source and add a link if possible).


Nike at the early stage were beating Adidas  20 April and 6 June

Social Mentions Positive Affinity Mentions Purchase Intent
Nike 200 100k 14.6
Adidas 88k 10k 10.9

Nike secured 200,118 social mentions between the 20 April and 6 June, according to communications agency Way to Blue, with 99,725 positive affinity mentions about the brand and its World Cup campaign. Adidas sparked 88,041 mentions in comparison with 9,530 of these posts discussing a positive affinity with their campaign.  However, it is not just in the attention stakes Nike seems to be winning out. Purchase intent for the American company jumped 2.1 points to 14.6 over the last month, a statistically significant rise according to YouGov’s Brand Index, while Adidas’ score dropped 0.3 points to 10.9. (Karl Lusbec 2014)

Even if the World Cup becomes the most social global event to date, could it, as  Alex Benady suggests, be the peak before the decline of earned media (and with it, perhaps owned media)? Post a comment.

For more on sponsorship see Intel Sponsor Inside of Barca Shirt



Benady, A. (2014) The 20th World Cup: Social media strategies and brand war rooms June 10,  PR Week

Lusbec, K. (2014) Sponsoring the FIFA World Cup: An Obsolete Business Model? Karl’s Football Lounge, 12 June


7167cc2e-2527-4c97-bf38-27bdb78540dbIn CONCACAF HQ, Florida