Marketers bring Web3 to the FIFA World Cup with augmented reality, NFTs and virtual worlds

With more than a million soccer fans expected to visit Qatar during the FIFA World Cup, a variety of brands and tech companies are hoping to score points well beyond the Middle East in various parts of the metaverse.

The month-long tournament, which kicks off this weekend, will be the first World Cup since it took place in Russia in 2018 long before “Web3” entered the global lexicon. Now official and unofficial backers hope to take advantage of advertising with a variety of NFTs, virtual worlds, augmented reality tools, and other hot technologies such as linear television and traditional social media. On the decline.

The collaborations are almost as diverse as the teams in the tournament. For example, in a new Adidas World Cup ad, a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT character appears with soccer stars Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema. Meanwhile, other brands like Visa, cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com and Swiss watchmaker Hublot are helping fans create digital art or explore virtual stadiums while experimenting with new platforms as part of their marketing efforts for Qatar 2022.

When it comes to testing new technology, the World Cup might be a better bet than other sports. According to Kantar’s survey of 29,500 soccer fans in the top 31 world markets, soccer fans were more likely than the global average to seek out novel experiences, make friends online and purchase the latest technology. They also tended to have higher incomes, comprise a slightly younger audience, identify as early adopters, and use streaming TV or video.

The integrations are signs that many brands are still open to exploring new technology to stand out from matches during the month-long global event. Chris Ross, a marketing analyst at Gartner, said the merging of factors and the turmoil of social platforms like Twitter, which are often used during major events for advertising and organic content, is inspiring marketers to explore further. from their usual channels.

“There may be some appetite from marketers to experiment with other channels as a result of what’s happening with Twitter,” Ross said. “Possibly just to experiment and get the most out of it, but they may also be hedging their bets.”

Instead of just reaching people with temporary videos and ads, other tech platforms are hoping to create new ways for fans to interact virtually and in real life. Upland, a virtual world platform that was created to resemble Earth, has partnered with FIFA to create NFT collections, host digital and in-person watch parties around the world, and showcase exclusive video highlights. Upland and FIFA have also created a replica of Qatar’s Lusail Stadium that will feature branded villas, showrooms and shops.

According to Upland co-founder and co-CEO Dirk Lueth, Upland’s goal is to give soccer fans “context to talk about” beyond scrolling through video and text on traditional social media. That includes talking about the game, the digital items they buy, and exploring parts of various virtual worlds. “I think that’s the future of social media: to provide this context where people search for it,” Lueth said.

Instead of creating NFTs and metaverses, Gen Z-focused sports community platform Stadium Live wants to be a second-screen destination for fans to chat live during games. Until recently, the app, which has 150,000 monthly active users, focused on other sports. However, he recently received funding from soccer star Blaise Matuidi and is teaming up with players Matuidi, Yohan Cabeye and Miralem Pjanić to create videos, make avatars and give away pixelated branding items based on the French and Bosnian players.

“Brands are beginning to recognize that their fan base is not as amenable to more traditional merchandising as it used to be,” said Mathieu Bilodeau, Stadium Live merchandising manager. “This is one of the first World Cups since the Fortnight has gone big. Many of these brands are recognizing that sports fans can be music fans, sports fans can be art fans, fashion fans, especially gaming fans; those two verticals are extremely aligned.”

Gaming companies are also developing ways to be a part of the World Cup. FIFA recently signed a multi-year partnership with Roblox. Nike partners with car soccer game “Rocket League” and Activision partners with Brazilian Neymar Jr, French Paul Pogba and Argentine Lionel Messi to make “Call of Duty” players look like soccer stars within the popular first-person game. shooter.

Augmented reality will also play a role this year. On Wednesday, Snap Inc. announced a series of augmented reality features for Snapchatters during the World Cup. Along with new global AR glasses for various national teams, Snap is also using the tournament to introduce its new “live garment transfer” technology with Adidas to allow people to virtually try on jerseys to see how they look on wearers. depending on your body type. . World Cup partners also include Peacock, which will allow users to track stats and use other visual and audio AR glasses, along with Chevrolet and Samsung. (Snapchat also developed a new interactive AR soccer game specifically for users in the Middle East.)

The World Cup is also a way for Snap to market itself in one of the first major events since it announced a major shakeup in September that placed AR as one of three key areas of focus.

“The World Cup and the Olympics are the two biggest global events,” said Clayton Peters, head of US verticals for Snap. “So it allows us to bring a total global community to some of these new products. , receive feedback and immediately understand how things work. Not just in one or two key markets, but in a truly global world with 32 teams competing and billions of people interested in the sport.”

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