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 host of brands and tech companies are hoping to score points far 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 modern technologies as linear television and traditional social media are to the recession.

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

When it comes to testing new technologies, the World Cup might be a better option than some other sports. According to a Kantar survey of 29,500 soccer fans in 31 major global markets, soccer fans are more likely than the global average to seek out new experiences, make friends online, and buy the latest technology. They also had higher incomes, slightly younger audiences, identified as early adopters, and used streaming TV or video.

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The integrations show that many brands are still open to exploring new technologies to stand out from the competition during the month-long global event. Gartner marketing analyst Chris Ross said the combination of factors and the upheaval of social platforms such as Twitter, which are often used in large advertising and organic content efforts, are inspiring marketers to explore beyond traditional channels.

“For ongoing marketers on Twitter, you may want to experiment with some other channels,” Ross said. “Maybe just to experiment and take full advantage, but they can also hedge 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 designed to look like Earth, is working with FIFA to create NFT collections, host digital and in-person viewing parties around the world and showcase exclusive videos. Upland and FIFA have also created a replica of Qatar’s Lusail Stadium, which will include villages, exhibition halls and shops.

According to Upland co-founder and CEO Dirk Luth, Upland’s goal is to give soccer fans context to talk about beyond scrolling videos and text through traditional social media feeds. This includes talking about the game, the digital items they buy, and exploring different parts of the virtual worlds. “I think that’s the future of social networks: to offer that context where people are looking for it,” Luth said.

Instead of creating NFTs and metaverses, Stadium Live, a Gen Z-oriented sports community platform, 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 working with players Matuidi, Yohan Cabeye and Miralem Pjanić to create videos, create avatars and give away pixelated trademark items based on the French and Bosnian players.

“Brands are starting to realize that their fan base is no longer as sensitive to more traditional marketing as it used to be,” said Mathieu Billot, head of marketing at Stadium Live. “This is one of the first World Cups since Fortnight has become big. A lot of these brands recognize that sports fans can be music fans, sports fans can be art fans, fashion fans, especially gaming fans – those two verticals are very agreed upon.

Gaming companies are also developing ways to participate in the World Cup. FIFA recently entered into a multi-year partnership with Roblox. Nike is teaming up 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 soccer stars in the popular first-person shooter. shooter.

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Augmented reality will also play its role this year. On Wednesday, Snap Inc. announced a series of AR features for Snapchatters during the World Cup. Along with the new global AR lenses for several national teams, Snap is also using the tournament to debut its new “live apparel transfer” technology with Adidas to allow people to virtually try on jerseys to see how they look to users based on their body type. . World Cup partners include Peacock, which will allow users to track stats and use other visual and audio AR lenses, as well as Chevrolet and Samsung. (Snapchat 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 promote itself in one of its first major events since announcing a major restructuring in September that put AR as one of its three main areas.

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

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