Vuvuzelas, Jabulanis & World Cup Noise

For the last few weeks much of the world has been talking about football. With the first ever World Cup on African soil there has certainly been plenty to talk about, whether it’s been the noise made by the vuvuzelas, which has excited and enraged fans in equal measures, the poor showing by most of the major stars, or the relative merits of Adidas’ Jabulani ball, which has been causing problems for goalkeepers and strikers alike. And also, as with all World Cups, much of the discussions has surrounded the ads that major brands release when the World Cup rolls around.

This year much of that discussion has been about Nike’s 3 minute epic, Write The Future*. The ad was first aired immediately after the Champion’s League Final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, an event which is probably about as close as Europe gets to the Superbowl. However, in a shift from previous years, the ad was actually launched with a global Facebook campaign, and had racked up millions of views within the first 24 hours, thereby inciting further conversations as fans passed the video on to their friends.

And yet, in a recently released report, Nielsen stated that the winner of the World Cup of buzz was Adidas, as the Jabulani has sparked more digital conversations. However, this is an extension of the old “any PR is good PR” view, and is one that really ought to be discarded in the connected economy.

One of the biggest failings that social media is accused of is that its proponents don’t understand measurement, but in fact I would argue that this is generally because people aren’t sure what they should be measuring. Racking up Facebook fans means nothing unless you know what you plan to do with them: YouTube views have no value in their own right, but only in context; and mentions of a brand, when most of them are saying how bad your ball is, are not necessarily the sort of mentions most brands would consider worthwhile.

Although, unlike the actual competition, there really isn’t a winner of the World Cup of Buzz, if there were it would need to be judged on more than just the number of mentions. It would need to consider the sentiment of those discussions; where they took place (was it in spaces occupied by your target audience?); whether those discussions spread; and, of course, whether they led to actual changes in consumer opinion or behaviour.

Personally I think Adidas probably did do pretty well out of this World Cup. And certainly, not all of Nike’s coverage has been positive. And, as is only right, with Holland (Nike) facing off against Spain (Adidas), the real winner will be decided on the pitch later today.

But saying that one beat the other due to quantity, rather than quality, is the sort of thing that should really be ruled offside.

*Nike are one of Mindshare’s clients, but had nothing to do with this post.

Vuvuzelas photo by Dundas Football Club on flickr. Some rights reserved

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