Whether they call it soccer, football or futbol, millions of fans of the world's most popular sport will reach their quadrennial frenzy when the FIFA World Cup kicks off next month.
And automakers won't be sitting on the bench. Hyundai and Volks-wagen plan advertising blitzes during the tournament to launch new vehicles.
The brands are targeting more than just soccer fans. They want to make inroads with Hispanics, a crucial, fast-growing portion of the U.S. auto market.
Steve Shannon, vice president of marketing for Hyundai Motor America, says the brand has committed to its largest-ever Spanish-language national TV buy as part of the launch campaign for the re-engineered 2015 Sonata mid-sized sedan. Meanwhile, VW hopes to elbow its way in with commercials for its GTI performance hatchback.
VW plans to run multiple TV spots during English- and Spanish-language broadcasts of World Cup matches throughout the tournament on ESPN and the Spanish-language network Univision, a VW spokeswoman said.
The key targets are the large numbers of Hispanic and young male viewers -- both key groups for GTI sales -- who tune in to World Cup matches. "There's a great alignment there" between the World Cup audience and the GTI's core market, said Vinay Shahani, Volks-wagen of America's vice president of marketing.
Even though American audiences prefer their football with helmets and tackling, the World Cup attracts a Super Bowl-sized TV audience in the United States over its monthlong run. More than 110 million U.S. viewers watched at least six minutes of live World Cup coverage during the 2010 tournament, according to the Nielsen Co. Moreover, Nielsen estimates English- and Spanish-language World Cup match broadcasts reached more than a third of all U.S. TV viewers in 2010.
Many of those viewers stay glued to the action. Whether it's about passion for country or for players such as the lightning-quick Argentine Leo Messi, Nielsen says live coverage of World Cup matches attracts large numbers of the extremely engaged viewers that marketers covet in the age of the digital video recorder.