This post first appeared as a blog post for the health
communications blog, HealthComU, on July 7, 2014.
It seems like just about everyone has World Cup fever. Despite
often playing second (or third, fourth, or fifth) fiddle to more
popular American sports, every four years, the World Cup manages to
captivate millions. Inspired children strap on shin guards and give
the game a try, while chants of "USA! USA!" echo across the
This time around, the World Cup has attracted a new
audience-those on social media.
The 2014 World Cup is quickly becoming the biggest social media
event ever, with 459 million posts, likes, and comments on
Facebook about the tournament in the first week alone and 12.2
million tweets during the opening match. Comparatively, that's more
social media interaction than the Super Bowl, the Sochi Winter
Olympics, and the Academy Awards combined.
All this attention on social media means that marketers have an
incredible opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of the
tournament. All of these eyes on the World Cup mean eyes on
advertisements, and that has raised concern among some public
health experts who argue that fast food and beverage companies
perhaps send a mixed
message by promoting physical activity while selling less than
healthy products. Likewise, the European Alcohol Policy
Alliance expressed disappointment that the
Brazilian government elected to forgo its ban on alcohol in sport
stadiums during this year's World Cup, arguing that "FIFA's
medical vision is "to improve everyone's health through football
and science, and if they really want to achieve this, they should
look into who they have as sponsors."
However, it seems that some companies havemanaged to find
harmony between advertising and health and wellness promotion.
Health communicators are getting in the "game."
Johnson & Johnson, the official health care sponsor of the
World Cup, kicked off its World Cup advertising with a unique
campaign that barely mentions the tournament. Instead, it focuses
on promotion of a campaign called "
Once Upon a Care" that seeks to inspire a devotion to caring.
It seems taking a different approach to its marketing has paid off
for Johnson and Johnson, as its Once "Upon A Care" video has had
more than 275,000 view since it was posted early last month.
Also taking advantage of what they knew would be a monumental
audience, Brazilian health officials are using the World Cup as an
opportunity to promote a program sponsored by UNAIDS called "
Protect the Goal." The program focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention
and seeks to increase global HIV awareness. The program offers
rapid HIV testing and counseling, free condoms, and emergency
retroviral medication. The program is being offered in 11 Brazilian
cities where World Cup teams are playing.
Advertising and promotion during sporting events is certainly
nothing new, but these campaigns by Johnson & Johnson and
UNAIDS are leveraging what has become a huge news story in
traditional and social media channels and spreading their health
messages. This technique is sometimes referred to as "newsjacking."