Sentiment Analysis and Sponsors – A Look at the FIFA World Cup

Kimberly Surico |
 06/29/18 |
5 min read

Sponsorship opportunities are a great way to put your brand in front of large new audiences. But how do you ensure you’re benefitting from the arrangement? Sentiment analysis, of course!

We’re tracking the 12 brands that are sponsors or partners of the FIFA World Cup. Here’s a look at where they stand in the week leading up to the games.

Identifying Sponsorship Opportunities

First, let’s talk about how to decide if it’s worth becoming a brand sponsor. Certainly the thought of having your brand name splashed across the sides of a stadium, or on every concession stand cup, napkin, etc. is appealing.

But sponsorships are only worth the hefty price tag if you’re sure your target audience is part of the crowd.

This is where regular social listening comes into play. Analyzing social conversations and sentiment over time allows you to identify audience segments with a passion for soccer, for example, or international sporting events, or rooting for their homeland.

When you know these segments also care about whatever your brand offers, you know a sponsorship can be successful – as long as you continue following along in real-time to be sure your prediction is coming true.

There’s no doubt the 12 brands sponsoring the World Cup looked at social analytics before jumping on board. If they didn’t, they’re taking a lot on faith. Here’s a snapshot of some key metrics for the week of June 7-13, 2018, a week before the games start:

The stand-out brands with regard to Mentions are:

  • Nike – 67K
  • Adidas – 53K
  • Hisense – 52K
  • Vivo – 36K

All four are way ahead of the rest of the field. But we know mentions don’t tell the full story. This is why we look to social sentiment – and whether emotions are positive or negative for each brand. The good news is every sponsor brand is on the positive end of the spectrum – but for some this distinction is relatively slight.

Here is Net Sentiment for these same brands:

  • Nike – 34%
  • Adidas – 66%
  • Hisense – 100%
  • Vivo – 66%

Hisense has perfect Net Sentiment with high mentions, which is good for them. But we’re not finished just yet. Without an understanding of the depth of emotions, we still don’t quite have enough to work with.

Here are the Passion Intensity measurements for the same brands:

  • Nike – 100%
  • Adidas – 100%
  • Hisense – 68%
  • Vivo – 19%

Putting these numbers into context, we see Nike might be in trouble. There’s a lot of conversation, but sentiment is on the low side, while passion is very high. That means whatever people are talking about, they’re very invested – but it’s not translating to high positive sentiment.

Looking at the details in NetBase Pro, there’s a big spike of negative sentiment on June 11th related to Nike pulling out of a sponsorship deal with the Iranian team as a result of U.S. sanctions:

It was a decision that did not leave Iran’s team set up for success leading into their first match against Morocco just a few days later. And many on social didn’t understand why it was happening when similar sanctions were in place in previous World Cup games – as evidenced by the Behaviors word cloud below:

This is something that FIFA would want to keep an eye on from their end as well, since sponsors are a reflection of their parent brands and organizations.

Incredible Love

And what of Hisense, the brand with the highest positive Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity? The TV and appliance company’s World Cup campaign is poised for greatness – and is clearly off to a strong start.

The brand is taking World Cup fans along for the ride via streaming video as they tour the World Cup countries with comedian Lloyd Griffith. Their #ShareTheIncredible movement also encourages soccer fans to share their own experiences. And so far, fans are loving it.

The conversation may not be the largest, but never discount the power of passion.

Week 1 Comparison

As the tournament gets under way, each of the sponsors is hopefully following their own social analytics findings so they can proceed appropriately as things progress. Here are the Mentions, Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity for our sponsoring brands during Week 1 (June 14-20):

We’ve got new top contenders along with new top positions in Week 1’s Mentions:

  • Vivo – 133K
  • Budweiser – 117K
  • Nike – 91K
  • Coca-Cola – 87K

Net Sentiment has shifted quite a bit, with fewer perfect scores than we saw in the week prior to the start of the World Cup. Some brands may take time to find their footing. The question is how much ground they’ll give up in the interim – and whether they can rebound.

Here are the top four:

  • Hisense – 100%
  • Wanda Group – 98%
  • Budweiser – 93%
  • Coca-Cola – 79%

And Passion Intensity is high overall, with a few brands still lagging… But that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily in trouble. It just means they aren’t getting fans as excited about their participation as other brands are. Five brands are tied at 100% Passion Intensity:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Hisense
  • Hyundai
  • Nike
  • Qatar Airways

Let’s start with Nike, since they weren’t faring so well in the lead-up. They’ve rebounded nicely from the Iran team scandal, with Net Sentiment at 68%, and 100% Passion Intensity. This is the result of the fast pace of the World Cup, and conversations moving to new teams and topics as the tournament gets underway.

There’s still a bit of negative sentiment over the sanctions in the mix, but most people are too focused on the AS Roma team’s “kit” to care:

How about Hisense? Their #ShareTheIncredible campaign continues to kill it – with a small jump in mentions, but perfect Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity of 100%. The people following this campaign are really invested – and that’s what you want.

Fans are loving the way Hisense is connecting them to soccer legends, allowing them to ask questions, and providing opportunities to attend the World Cup Final in Moscow:

We’re curious to see how the momentum will continue to build for Hisense. In the meantime, Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Hyundai are all getting in on the action in Week 1, as are many other brands with respectably high sentiment and passion scores.

A few brands may be in trouble, though. Gazprom and Mengniu don’t have many Mentions at all. And though their Net Sentiment is highly positive, Passion Intensity isn’t very strong. The people who are talking about them like them fine – but they aren’t rabid fans. And that’s what you need to break through conversations that are more engaging.

And Visa’s 16K Mentions represent a 5K jump from the week prior, along with a 36% climb to Net Sentiment of 77%. This is good except for one thing: Passion Intensity is at 0%.

Visa’s fans don’t care enough to be excited or annoyed by their campaign efforts. They’re offering the brand a resounding, “Meh.” Not what they’re likely going for.

And there are hints at what could become a downturn in sentiment if they’re not careful. Though these feelings aren’t being overwhelmingly expressed (yet), it does seem there are people annoyed that Visa is the only card accepted at the games:

Others find it annoying that Visa is mentioned so much in some of the coverage:

Almost worse than being upset with a brand is tuning it out completely. Hopefully Visa is using real-time analytics so they’re aware of the apathetic attitude of their audience. And perhaps help from footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović can turn things around.

We’ll find out in Week 2!

Want to learn more about applying social sentiment around trends and events? Reach out and we’ll show you how!



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