Why World Cup As Marketing Tool Scores Best In Latin America

Proportionally, the World Cup has more followers in the Latin American marketplace than any other region. It's a unique opportunity to tap into pure emotion of potential consumers.

Andre Silva of Nike-sponsored Portugal National Team in action during World Cup 2018 training
Andre Silva of Nike-sponsored Portugal National Team in action during World Cup 2018 training
Claudia Gioia

MIAMI — Beyond being the world's most popular sport, soccer is essential to any description of Latin American culture. It brings us moments of joy, emotion — and dismay — and it wouldn't be far-fetched to say this passion has helped us weather some of the tough real-life situations our countries have experienced over the years.

The World Cup is acknowledged as a superb opportunity for brands to win over consumers across the planet, but ours is a particularly important region in this regard — proportionally, more people will be watching the games here than in other regions in the world, according to a poll by Global Web Index. Here are some of the marketing trends we can expect through the World Cup, as brands try and maximize visibility riding a wave of mass emotions.

1 - Start early

National team sponsors began well before kickoff this year to fuel expectations around the World Cup. Those brands that understood what each country feels for its team were able to create emotive links with their audiences, especially through stories coming to life online. They included Nike and beer labels in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia. In countries whose national teams did not qualify, the trend was to promote quality time with family and friends watching the games themselves. In Chile, electronics brands positioned their most innovative products around watching the World Cup on the best possible television screen, table or smartphone. Cable operators like DIRECTV offered a better broadcasting experience, HD viewing, exclusive content and multi-screen technologies.

Successful brands within this World Cup are those that have understood the power of user generated content.

2 - A mobile Cup

People are increasingly using mobile technology, social networks and online platforms to access games at times and places of their choosing. Forbes recently found that 98% of sports marketing professionals choose digital spaces like networking sites to channel sponsorship. Increased use of personal devices (73% increase in Internet use) is pushing marketing strategies onto mobile platforms. In 2017, digital users spent twice as much time on their smartphones as they might typically before a computer. Argentina was the country with the most minutes per person spent on mobiles, followed by Mexico and Brazil, according to ComScore. So leading brands will want to exploit the current World Cup momentum to create mobile-compatible content and reach consumers via applications.

3 - Reinventing television

Amid fierce competition for viewer attention, television has had to reinvent itself, boosting program quality and offering brands valuable opportunities to reach consumers through mobile platforms. This World Cup, FIFA announced it would broadcast the games in Ultra-High Definition (UHD) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), which allow viewers to see them in virtual reality, live or with 360 video-on-demand. TV and cable firms will use such technologies to improve customer access to exclusive and HD content that are so much closer to reality. This could boost advertising revenues, benefiting the big channels with broadcasting rights.

4 - Exceptional experiences

Consumers will be at the heart of brand marketing strategies. Fans will live through some unique experiences and these can take them closer to brands and favorite players, but only, as the Brandz Top 100 report shows, if firms have accurate customer profiles and have invested in marketing intelligence.

5 - Consumer story power

Social influencers are important in marketing strategies, but successful brands within this World Cup are those that have understood the power of user generated content. Nike Brazil for example abandoned the traditional approach of presenting an official team shirt at a press event. Instead, it staged a bigger "event" by cloaking the avenues of Sao Paulo in yellow and green, the national colors. This, and a big concert, gave thousands of Brazilians direct visual access to football slogans and allowed them to recount and share the experience on social networks. Strategies based on deep knowledge of what consumers want and expect, are what allow brands to use the power of creativity to offer them real, unique audiovisual experiences that could boost brand loyalty in the context of one of the world's biggest sporting events.

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Debt Trap: Why South Korean Economics Explains Squid Game

Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.

In the Netflix series, losers of the game face death

Yip Wing Sum


SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.

The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.

It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.

Seoul housing prices top London and New York

In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.

According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.

Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.

One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.

According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.

Playing the stock market

At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.

A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."

In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.

42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s

Simon Shin/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Game of survival

In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.

But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.

This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.

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