Visa reaches out to soccer fans during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in its most social campaign to date.

The FIFA World Cup offers brands massive exposure worldwide. As many as 32 nations took part in this year’s FIFA World Cup, billions of people watched the matches, hours of commercials were broadcast in every country and hundreds of social activations were held on social media.

For the official FIFA sponsors, the games mean potential revenue worth billions of dollars. The top-tier sponsors Adidas, Coca Cola, Sony, Visa, Hyundai/KIA Motors and Emirates spent a total of $730 billion to get the brand positioning they wanted.

Everywhere You Want To Be

This year, Visa entered the World Cup with flying colors. The company is popular for its ability to leverage social media. As it has gained significant experience in successfully following and engaging the audience on social networking websites, this year’s Visa World Cup digital campaign was destined for success.

The campaign officially rolled out on social media on June 3rd. Its aims were to raise awareness of the brand, its services and more specifically of the new payment technologies, as well as to support its customers in fulfilling their needs.

Its instruments: user interaction and the creation of a feeling of being at the World Cup in Brazil. As a result, the campaign leveraged resources to suggest a feeling of being global while still maintaining local spirit.

Aspects of the Campaign

Samba of the World

[tweetable alt=”@Visa’s campaign included a #viral compilation of 32 videos from the 32 qualifying countries.” hashtag=”#worldcup”]The most fascinating aspect of the campaign included a potentially viral compilation of 32 videos, produced by independent filmmakers coming from all of the 32 qualifying countries.[/tweetable] Short films played against the rhythm of samba with a national twist that could be shared by viewers via the specially developed interactive player.

The result is a magnificent celebration of the world’s passion for football while praising the spirit of Brazil.

#Visa Fanbassadors

Making the most of the opportunities of citizen journalism, Visa invited a team of 11 popular opinion leaders and bloggers from countries known for their enthusiasm for football to cover the event on social media, be it through Facebook, Twitter, Vine, or Instagram.

Their task was to share content about the World Cup, and to capture the spirit of the game either in Brazil or in their home countries, with a focus on the fans and the celebrations around the world. The result was a motley collection of inspiring images from across the globe.

Teletransporter

The most social aspect of the campaign, which had the potential to reach the highest sharing rates and add to the organic visibility of the brand, was Teletransporter.

Through fun, fans were encouraged to join the game by inserting their photos in notable football scenes. The campaign let football devotees immerse themselves in the sports extravaganza via short viral videos, which they could share via their social media accounts. Tweet:

 

Why Was It Successful

To gauge the success of this social campaign, let’s look at the data. As CMO reports, [tweetable alt=”@Visa’s campaign gained 100m social signals, 75m video views, and more than 1.4bn digital impressions.” hashtag=”#worldcup”]the campaign resulted in a whopping 100 million social signals, 75 million video views, and more than 1.4 billion digital impressions.[/tweetable]

Basing their assessment on engagement rates, media impressions, and other real-time metrics, the company considers to have strengthened the brand, reinforced customer relations and built up knowledge about new and existing payment technologies.

As football is already present in a considerable number of social media campaigns, it makes perfect sense for companies to utilize social media when it comes to building their brands during major sports events.

There are millions of football fans on social networking platforms, eager to join in the game, but unable to travel to the stadiums. Knowing where their customers are, Visa has been following, engaging and educating its clients in a most compelling fashion.

As a result, their interactive social activation had every chance to create word-of-mouth on the web, which it did.

At the same time, embracing humor to get their brand message across, the company employs a truly powerful strategy. Humor travels easily. It facilitates the process of influence on the part of brands and people alike, and enhances the convincing power of communication.

Incorporating humor aptly as a main vehicle of communication, Visa builds bridges between the participating nations, alleviating the rivalry-related stress and anxiety. It doesn’t matter if your country lost the game last night as long as you can share the fun and keep smiling.

In a sense, the campaign achieves to present the power of football to bring people together, reinforcing the global character of the company and its services.

Last but not least, playing on national feelings (via Samba of the World), the campaign stirs up national pride and fulfillment. Its educational element is not to underestimate anyone—provoking curiosity about less-developed foreign nations and suggesting the idea that the brand has a global presence and its products can be used easily wherever you go.

After all, one of the campaign’s objectives is to create knowledge about the company’s products and services, as well as to engage the users through entertainment. In this sense, activating a multicultural ambiance for the brand is a proper solution.

Possible Pitfalls

Humor when used in social media campaigns can be a real treasure. But it needs to be relevant to the products and services depicted, and some industries seem to be slightly more suitable for humorous campaigns than others. Financial instruments and services are not usually such products.

However, Visa manages to escape the danger of creating a negative effect through its perfectly executed campaign, making the most of social media as a marketing tool. Even more importantly, the campaign uses the most potent of all forms of humor—self-irony—without being disrespectful toward any group of people, gender, nation or ethnicity.

Speaking of self-irony, I joined the campaign too, all in the name of science of course.

Did you enjoy Visa’s campaign and did you participate in it? Did you think it was successful as a social media marketing campaign?

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer social media management services to build a vibrant audience for your brand across all media channels. Learn more about social media and PR here.

(Image credit: Visa/Twitter)