World Cup Sentiment Check-in: Which Sponsors Are Winning?

Niraj Sharma |
 07/11/18 |
5 min read

Whether you’re an international soccer – or “football” – fan or not, it’s hard to escape World Cup Fever as the tournament continues. And it’s not just the 12 sponsors and partners of the FIFA World Cup who stand to benefit from all the excitement.

All brands can follow their progress and learn how to use to grab some share of voice for themselves. Let’s look at where things stand in Weeks 2 and 3 as we talk about how.

Week 2: The Small but Mighty (June 21-27)

As we know from our breakdown of Weeks 0 and 1, love and passion don’t always equate to size of brand. Here’s a graph of all 12 sponsor brands in Week 2:

The sponsors with the highest Net Sentiment/Passion in Week 2 are:

The first number – Net Sentiment – measures positivity or negativity of emotion on a scale from -100 to +100. Appliance brand Hisense has a perfect score. No negative sentiment in the mix.

The second number – Passion Intensity – measures the strength of social emotion on a scale from -100 to +100. Again, Hisense has a perfect score, but so do McDonald’s and Qatar airways.

What accounts for the difference? It could be that McDonald’s and Qatar’s fans are slightly less passionate than Hisense’s. Or that there are some negative conversations bringing down the Net Sentiment score. But the distinction is slight.

Still, we don’t have a complete picture without understanding how Mentions factor in. Mentions don’t tell you much without Sentiment to put things into context. A million mentions sounds like a good thing – but if they’re all complaints, then your brand is in trouble.

So what’s the story here? Let’s add mentions to our top five brands and see:

  • Hisense: 100/100/56K
  • McDonald’s: 89/100/3K
  • Qatar Airways: 96/100/2K
  • Visa: 92/76/14K
  • Coca-Cola: 80/85/24K

Hisense continues to lead when all three metrics are taken into account. It’s worth noting the consistency of these numbers from the beginning. There was a small jump in Mentions from Week 0 to Week 1, and a very small decrease from Week 1 to Week 2, but Brand Passion (Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity combined) is perfect.

There’s a lot of love for their #ShareTheIncredible campaign – especially for their live Room of Legend videos, like this one hosted by English footballer Michael Owen:

Fewer mentions are a bit of a surprise for the remaining brands at the top of the list. It’s good the people talking are passionate fans, but compared to Hisense, McDonald’s and Qatar Airways aren’t really breaking through.

Coca-Cola and Visa are doing better on the engagement front, but Visa’s Passion Intensity is lagging slightly by comparison to the others’.

Uruguay beat Russia today at the World Cup. Fortunately Russia is still advancing so the Uruguay team won’t suddenly find their visas revoked.”

There are numerous ways Sentiment scores can be affected, so it’s important to always investigate what’s behind any analytics that don’t make sense.

For example, looking at the brands in the bottom for Week 2 we have Mengniu, with 508 Mentions, Net Sentiment of 10 and Passion Intensity of 0. Uh-oh! What happened since Week 1, when Mengniu’s Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity were much higher – 75 and 40 respectively?

It turns out people are somewhat confused by having a relatively unknown Chinese dairy brand advertising so heavily at the World Cup – especially against well-known heavyweights like McDonald’s and Coke.

But this opportunity – thanks to some Western brands opting out – can be a big advantage for Mengniu if they track conversations in real-time and engage social consumers smartly. This could be the event that puts them squarely on the world stage.

Week 3: How the Mighty Are Rising and Falling (June 28-July 4)

Of course, the one thing guaranteed on social is that things change quickly. Here’s where the sponsors stand in Week 3:

Let’s start with Mengniu. There’s been quite a drop in Net Sentiment over the past week (from 10 to -67), and Mentions are also down (from 508 to 260). Passion Intensity is still at 0, which means one thing: nobody cares all that much. Whatever they’re thinking, they aren’t very invested in it.

So what’s behind this continued Sentiment plummet? It’s more of the same, really. Russian fans, and those in other countries beyond China, don’t know what companies like Mengniu and Wanda Group do.

Beyond that, World Cup fans are making comparisons to brands they are more familiar with – like Magnum or Haagen Dazs.

For Mengniu to make the most of this brand awareness opportunity, they need to find a way to connect with global soccer fans, and quickly.

As for Wanda Group… their Passion Intensity measured 100 just a week ago, so what’s going on? They’re just not holding audience interest against the other sponsor brands. Net Sentiment is still 60, but Mentions have dropped by more than half since before the World Cup, and there’s just no excitement for the brand.

So which brands are keeping World Cup fans’ attention?

There are actually a lot of changes in Week 3, so let’s look at some stand-outs on both sides of the emotional fence. On the positive side, Hisense is still doing well, with perfect 100s in Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity. They have, however, dropped by about 5K Mentions. Time to encourage a bit more sharing among their passionate fan base.

Budweiser has been slowing building since Week 0 – with consistently high Net Sentiment, but only middle-of-the-road Passion Intensity. That changes in Week 3 as they hit 100% Passion, with Net Sentiment at a strong 88. Mentions have dropped slightly from a high of 132K to 98K, but overall they’re doing well.

It doesn’t hurt that America’s Independence Day was part of the Week 3 period:

Two huge brands are not doing as well as you’d expect – Nike and McDonald’s. Here are their numbers for Net Sentiment, Passion Intensity, and Mentions respectively:

  • Nike: 64/7/47K
  • McDonald’s: 76/0/5K

Could it be fans take them for granted? Sentiment is positive, but there’s no Passion behind it.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola looks to be in some trouble with Sentiment, Passion, and Mentions at 8, 0, and 21K respectively. A look in NetBase Pro shows us some negative behaviors:

This seems to be a response to rumors the brand is choosing an unpopular political side by allegedly recording a song in its Coke Studio in Pakistan.

But many on social media are using #BoycottCocaCola without even knowing why:

It’s up to Coca-Cola to decide if they should respond to the allegations or not. Sometimes you can hurt your brand more by speaking up at the wrong moment or in the wrong way. Only they can make that decision, but hopefully they’re following Sentiment in real-time so they’re aware of the issue.

One way to do so is to set up a Live Pulse to watch various aspects of the social conversation in real time. We have a Brand Pulse, a Leaderboard Pulse, and an Image Pulse running for the World Cup. Check them out!

Teams and Players Make the World Cup Personal

The sponsors are – in several cases – being smart by leveraging teams and players in their social campaigns. After all, the players are the superstars, and soccer fans live vicariously through them.

Here’s an infographic illustrating the power of the World Cup teams and players:

One thing is clear: There are several ways to approach an extended “moment” like the World Cup, and every brand has equal opportunity to participate.

Follow the conversation – and more importantly, the Social Sentiment – and you’ll know if it’s right to engage your audience on this topic, and how to approach them.

Then even if your favorite team loses, your brand still wins.

Want to see how our Sentiment Analysis tools work live? Get in touch and we’ll put your brand through a custom demo!




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