World Cup Content: Stepping It Up

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is more than a month away, but content is already ramping up in anticipation for the world stage.  We’re use to seeing brands come out in full force around major sporting events, but there’s been something special about what I’ve seen for the World Cup so far.

Powerade, Nike and ESPN have all launched videos surrounding the event.  And, all three of them have nailed it because they understand why things catch on.

I talk a lot about the power of emotion in social media and sport. I’m a big believer that emotion is the thread that ties fans and teams together. Whether or not you have played a sport, you understand the emotion– anticipation, excitement, anguish, pure joy, etc.– players’ experience.

Think about it: Emotion is what makes sports so relatable across the globe.  

All three videos tap into emotion, while telling stories, which studies have shown are keys to getting people to share (learn more about that here). Below are the three videos, along with some takeaways from the campaigns:


With over 10M views in less than 24 hours (and constantly growing), there is no arguing that Nike nailed this one. The star-studded video is a story full of twists and turns, great moments and surprises. After I saw it the first time, I had to watch it again because I wasn’t sure what had just hit me. Pure genius. There are a few things that stand out to me:

  • The video is part of a larger campaign.
    Too often brands put a ton of resources behind a spot without thinking about how it can be integrated with everything else. Nike didn’t just create a video and shake the dirt off their hands—they put effort into an integrated digital and social campaign and extended their story and reach.
  • Risk Everything tells a story. 
    Storytelling is powerful. It captures people’s attention and makes them remember. This video from Nike is actually the second video released in their “Risk Everything” campaign (the fist one shows Ronaldo and crew walking into the stadium). Nike is using separate videos to tell different chapters in a story. It’s a smart approach.
  • Fans are integrated. 
    Nike has extended their “Risk Everything” campaign to fans in two ways. First, they are encouraging fans to risk everything on the pitch, capture it on video and share it using #RiskEverything. Secondly, they have launched a small-sided tournament that fans can join and represent their neighborhood. All the language like “risk everything” and “winner stays” from their video is included in this digital piece. This tournament is a great way to connect people to the brand in a physical way and build a really strong base of ambassadors. Check out the fan opportunities here.


While not quite viral like Nike’s spot, Powerade has still scored a powerful goal with their video about Nico Calabria and defying expectations. As you can see with the two videos above, Powerade has integrated Nico’s story into their larger World Cup campaign with the theme that there’s “Power in Every Game.”  A few thoughts:

  • Powerade makes the World Cup story relatable.
    Powerade made their spot relatable and it’s powerful. First, they used Nico’s story as a way to bring everyone in. Even if you haven’t played a sport, there’s a good chance that at some point in your life you have had to defy odds and expectations. Nico’s story, while not the same as ours, is relatable and inspiring. Secondly, using the World Cup stage as a parallel to everyone’s game makes the spot applicable to players around the globe. It makes fans feel like their game matters.
  • There’s a need in social.
    While Powerade earned a win with their videos, they need to revamp their social efforts. Nike has a strong social community to help carry the weight of their campaign; Powerade on the other hand, does not.  A quick look their Twitter account shows a lack of engagement, strong content, brand voice and consistency. It’s a huge miss for them.


I love this spot from ESPN because it makes US soccer fans excited and anxious for the games ahead. It’s a rallying cry for fans to come together and stand behind their team. It’s short and sweet, but awesome. I have one thought with ESPN:

  • The gap between TV and digital needs to bridge.
    Obviously this was created from a TV perspective, and because of that, ESPN often misses the mark on social and digital integration. I would really like to see the Worldwide Leader of Sports think more globally about how they can bridge the gap between television and digital. This spot above has great potential to be a large-scale integrated campaign, but unfortunately, has zero social / digital integration other than a few tweets about the ad and a link on YouTube.

A huge kudos to the brands above for tapping into emotion with their videos. After the roller coaster ride of surprise, awe and excitement, I’m eager to see what other content and social / digital initiatives the World Cup will bring. If these videos are any indication, we are in for a treat.

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  1. Hi Jessica! I agree that emotion is a key element in sports. I think Nike has always done a great job in capturing emotionally charged campaigns to intrigue the public. The use of emotion and storytelling adds a shock value to appeal to fans and helps connect the audience. I recently came across ESPN’s World Cup ad “Time Zone”. This video uses emotion to showcase the connection between football fans around the world.

    • Hi, there! I stumbled upon “Time Zone” too… what did you think of it? Perhaps I can update this post to reflect the other videos that have recently been released. There is so much awesome World Cup content out there! Thanks for reading and leaving your note. It’s appreciated!

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