What American football can learn from the World Cup

What American football can learn from the World Cup

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is being heralded as a great success. Many claim it was one of the most exciting tournaments in recent memory – some are even calling it the best-ever World Cup. Like millions of fans around the globe, I found myself glued to many of the games.

Something in particular that appealed to me about the World Cup tournament was the non-stop format of the games. The clock ticked on through injuries and substitutions, leaving no time for commercial breaks. I got 45 minutes of solid sports!

What I found particularly interesting is how the World Cup organisers offset the lack of TV commercial breaks with venue-based advertising which ran the duration of each match. This persistent advertising ranged from the hard-to-miss LED screens, surrounding the sidelines, to subtle logo placement on acrylic sheets that served as backdrops for post-game player interviews. What a great mix of high-tech and low-tech methods to generate brand visibility at the matches. The LED screens are interesting and attention-grabbing – a nice improvement from the time when there were just static signs around the field.

And despite this significant amount of advertising content, it never felt intrusive. Most of the time when the ball was in play I focused my attention on the match, but when the game halted due to penalty or injury (or protesters rushing the pitch!), I found myself perusing the various forms of advertising on display throughout the arenas.

In recent years, major sports televised in the United States have been plagued with a big increase in “TV timeouts”. Networks and sports teams welcome the increased revenue streams, but I feel like they make games unnecessarily long and disrupt the flow of play.

As we prepare for the American football season’s kick-off this fall, I wonder if we’ll see an increase in this sort of “in-game” advertising. No doubt pros in the DOOH industry have taken notice of how advertising at the World Cup was ever-present and somehow not disruptive at all to the viewing experience. I wonder if other major sports in the US and abroad will find similar ways to deliver in-game advertising that doesn’t detract from the viewing experience.