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, an array of companies and technology companies are hoping to score points beyond the Middle East in different parts of the metaverse.

The month-long tournament, which starts this weekend, will be the first World Cup since it was held in Russia in 2018 long before “Web3” entered the global lexicon. Now, official and unofficial sponsors are hoping to capitalize on the hype with various NFTs, virtual worlds, augmented reality tools and other technologies that are as trendy as linear TV and traditional social media. on the way down.

The interactions are almost as different as the teams in this tournament. For example, in the new World Cup ad from Adidas, the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT actor appears with soccer stars Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema. Meanwhile, other brands such as Visa, crypto exchange Crypto.com and Swiss watchmaker Hublot are helping fans create digital art or explore virtual platforms as they try out new platforms as part of their Qatar 2022 marketing efforts.

When it comes to testing new technology, the World Cup may be a better bet than other sports. According to Kantar’s survey of 29,500 soccer fans in 31 major global markets, soccer fans were more likely to seek out new things, make friends online and buy the latest technology than the global average. And they tend to have more money, cover smaller audiences, see them as original creators and use TV or video broadcasts.

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The mergers are signs that many brands are still open to exploring new technologies to differentiate themselves from matches during the month-long global event. Chris Ross, a marketing analyst at Gartner, said the integration and flexibility of social media platforms such as Twitter — often used during major promotional events and organic content — is encouraging marketers to explore beyond their traditional channels.

“There may be a desire for advertisers to try other channels because of what’s happening with Twitter,” Ross said. “Maybe just to try and make the most of it, but it’s also possible they’re hedging their bets.”

Rather than just reaching people with short-term videos and ads, some technology platforms are hoping to create new ways for fans to interact more literally and in real life. Upland, a virtual world platform created to look like Earth, has partnered with FIFA to create NFT collections, organize digital and in-person viewing parties around the world and show exclusive highlight videos. Upland and FIFA have also created a replica of Qatar’s Lusail Stadium which will feature villages, showrooms and shops.

According to Upland Co-Founder and Co-CEO Dirk Lueth, the goal is for Upland to provide football fans with “conversation context” beyond scrolling through videos and text on traditional social media platforms. That includes talking about the game, the digital items they buy and exploring different parts of the virtual world. “I think that’s the future of social media: Providing this context where people want it,” Lueth said.

Rather than creating NFTs and metaverses, Gen Z-focused sports platform Stadium Live wants to be a second screen space for fans to chat live during games. Until recently, the app – which has 150,000 monthly active users – focused on other games. However, it recently received funding from soccer player Blaise Matuidi and is collaborating with players Matuidi, Yohan Cabeye and Miralem Pjanić to create videos, create avatars and provide trademarked items based on French and Bosnian players.

“Brands are starting to realize that their fans can no longer be advertised to in the traditional way,” said Mathieu Bilodeau, Stadium Live’s marketing manager. “This is one of the first World Cups since Fortnight became big. A lot of these genres recognize that sports fans can be music fans, sports fans can be art fans, fashion fans, sports fans especially—those two verticals are extremely compatible.”

Gaming companies are making ways to be a part of the World Cup, too. FIFA recently entered into a multi-year partnership with Roblox. Nike is partnering with the automotive soccer game “Rocket League” and Activision is partnering with Brazil’s Neymar Jr, France’s Paul Pogba and Argentina’s Lionel Messi to let players of “Call of Duty ” look like football stars inside the famous first person. the shooter.

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The dislike of augmented reality will also play a role this year. On Wednesday, Snap Inc. announced a number of AR features for Snapchatters during the World Cup. Along with the new AR lenses for the world’s most national teams, Snap is also using the tournament to showcase its new “live clothing streaming” technology with Adidas so people can try on jerseys to see how they look to users based on their body type. . World Cup partners also include Peacock – which will allow users to track stats and use other visual and auditory AR lenses – as well as Chevrolet and Samsung. (Snapchat has also developed a new interactive AR soccer game aimed specifically at users in the Middle East.)

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

“The World Cup and the Olympics are two of the biggest events in the world,” said Clayton Peters, head of Americas analytics for Snap. So it allows us to bring the global community to some of these new products, get feedback and quickly understand how things work. Not just in one or two important markets, but in a real world world with 32 competing teams and billions of eyes interested in sports.”

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