Huffpost Business

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jose Costa Headshot

Brands Give Their All for the 2014 World Cup

Posted: Updated:

My love of soccer started in my hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. From a young age, I spent hours playing and watching the game, and eventually joined my high school's soccer team. While I was passionate about my tournaments and games, the most anticipated event always came every four years: The World Cup.

Watching dozens of countries come together to face off in highly skilled soccer games, while their fans root for them and their countries, has always been exciting, and this year's games have not disappointed.

In addition to close matches and upsets -- we are still thinking about Portugal's game-deciding goal in the last 30 seconds of play against the U.S. -- the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has had outstanding ad and social media campaigns. Paired with the games, these have created an interactive and capturing event that has drawn more viewership and engagement than ever before, as evidenced by a record-breaking audience.

So far, the World Cup has helped set new audience records for ESPN and Univision, with some games averaging about 11 million viewers on the channels, and they have drawn millions of viewers online through live streaming.

Major brands have taken notice of how influential the World Cup is. U.S. ad spending on soccer programming increased by 43 percent in 2013, as companies prepared for the kickoff, and many are creating ad campaigns that leverage the tournament.

The World Cup is also becoming the biggest social media event ever. At Maaco, we've caught World Cup fever too, and have been running a successful online and social promotion campaign that tests our customers' soccer smarts. The more answers they get correct on World Cup questions, the more chances they have of winning a #MAACOVER.

When it comes to advertising, many of the best commercials that have aired tell stories that incorporate not only the games and star soccer players, but also the values associated with the World Cup, including unity, multiculturalism and passion. The ads take advantage of the limited commercial breaks between the 90-minute games to strategically position their brands and products within the values that the millions of World Cup viewers relate to.

Below are some of my favorite commercials, which I think have successfully captured the spirit of the games.

Beats By Dre - The Game Before the Game

Beats advertised its new, premium headphone line for Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine with a spot that features soccer stars Neymar Junior, Cesc Fabregas and Luis Suarez, as well as LeBron James, Serena Williams, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. Through its all-star cast, the 5-minute ad shows how world-class athletes and musicians use Beats headphones to mentally and physically prepare for the game -- be it the World Cup or a concert -- during the "game before the game."

Hyundai - #BecauseFutbol

Hyundai's #BecauseFutbol ad campaign uses the passion that World Cup fans have for their teams to show just how much the games influence their lives. With spots that show how team wins bring happy fans together, to ones that show how fans will change their daily routines to avoid game spoilers, the campaign associates Hyundai cars with passion, community and happiness around the World Cup.

Nike - Winner Stays

Nike's ad brings every soccer fan's dreams to life -- becoming one of your favorite players. In the ad, a group of teens transform into Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and other soccer stars.

McDonald's - House Divided

For this year's games, McDonald's is straying away from the stars and the players, effectively using fans and their experiences to place their products within the World Cup. The games bring together millions of fans for a similar cause -- to root for their team and watch great soccer, and McDonald's ads play on these experiences.

Their "House Divided" ad draws on the multiculturalism of many fans, with a dad that still roots for his home country, Mexico, while his son roots for the U.S. They come together over the excitement of their respective countries competing and, of course, their McDonald's meals.

As we find ourselves in the middle of global World Cup fever, I can't wait to see what brands have in store to continue to engage consumers, and what country will take home the cup.