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

As more than a million soccer fans are expected to visit Qatar during the FIFA World Cup, a host 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 begins 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 hope to capitalize on the hype through a range of NFTs, virtual worlds, augmented reality tools and other trendy technology such as linear TV and traditional social media are. 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 such as Visa, crypto exchange and Swiss watchmaker Hublot are helping fans make digital art or explore virtual stadiums as they experiment with new platforms as part of their Qatar 2022 marketing efforts.

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

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

“There may be some appetite for marketers to experiment with some other channels as a result of what’s happening with Twitter,” Ross said. “Maybe just to experiment and take full advantage, but they might also be hedging their bets.”

Rather than just reaching people with temporary videos and ads, other technology platforms hope to create new ways for fans to interact virtually 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 videos. Upland and FIFA have also created a replica of Qatar’s Lusail Stadium, which will feature branded villages, exhibition halls and shops.

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

Rather than 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, it recently received funding from soccer star Blaise Matuidi and is collaborating with players Matuidi, Yohan Cabeye and Miralem Pjanić to create videos, make avatars and give away pixelated trademarks based on the French and Bosnian players.

“Brands are starting to recognize that their fan base is not as susceptible to more traditional marketing as it used to be,” said Mathieu Bilodeau, Stadium Live marketing manager. “This is one of the first World Cups after Twenty Year Old made it big. A lot of these brands recognize that sports fans can be music fans, sports fans can be art fans, fashion fans, gaming fans especially – those two verticals are extremely aligned.”

Gaming companies are also developing ways to be part of the World Cup. FIFA recently signed a multi-year partnership with Roblox. Nike is partnering with the car soccer game “Rocket League” and Activision is teaming up with Brazil’s Neymar Jr, France’s Paul Pogba and Argentina’s Lionel Messi to let “Call of Duty” players look like the soccer stars in the popular first-person shooter. shooter

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

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The World Cup is also a way for Snap to market itself in one of the first major events, as it announced a major redesign in September that put AR as one of three main focuses.

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


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