I love any kind of global sports competition- whether it’s a World Championship, an Olympics or a World Cup- because I love watching countries support their best athletes in hopes they will prove themselves the best in the world. I love seeing the enthusiasm and the pride these kinds of events bring to each country and, of course, the way advertising is used in these enormous events.
For this World Cup, I have been paying particular attention to Pepsi, even though the official World Cup sponsor is Coke. Pepsi has been weaseling their way into the World Cup with their “Oh Africa” video online and on TV. The video has received more views and attention than Coke’s videos since it went viral in March. It is a two-and-a-half minute high-budget video featuring soccer superstars (Messi, Lampard, Henry, and Drogba) playing soccer in Africa and is considered a World Cup video even though it does not directly associate itself with the competition.
I appreciate any effective and creative ambush marketing techniques, especially for an event like the World Cup, and Pepsi’s newest ambush technique is one of my favorites: Argentina’s famous and controversial former soccer star and current coach Diego Maradona said if Argentina were to win the World Cup, he would run through the streets of Buenos Aires naked. Pepsi has capitalized on this quote from Maradona by taking out print ads in Argentina featuring a Pepsi bottle with no label and only a tag around the neck with “If the coach goes naked, we will, too. Pepsi promises.” Pepsi is promising that if Argentina wins and Maradona makes good on his naked victory lap promise, they will distribute Pepsi bottles in Argentina for one week with no label.
I’m blown away at the speed of Pepsi’s response and their innovative way to further connect themselves to the World Cup without being an actual sponsor. No matter how many times Coca-Cola is printed in association with this year’s World Cup, it will be Pepsi who is remembered for the creative way they capitalized on a soccer legend and the global World Cup fever. At this point, I think Pepsi has already won even if Argentina does not come out victorious. But if Argentina does win, Pepsi will have cleverly and very cost-effectively associated its brand with what is sure to be a joyous and monumental moment for Argentina. Brilliant.