Facebook has kicked off a charm offensive to lure brands looking to advertise around the Olympics with a B2B campaign trumpeting its audience of sport fans, as the one year countdown to Tokyo 2020 gets underway.
The platform has enlisted acclaimed British director Jack Weatherley, who has directed commercials for Nike and UEFA, to create a slick campaign encouraging brands to ‘start your 2020 game plan now’, while at the same time advertising Facebook as the go-to platform to reach sports fans.
"To win in 2020, preparation is everything," the campaign proclaims. "We have everything you need to prepare."
The 'Give Your Game Everything' campaign, which will roll out globally today, has been created by Facebook's digital insights and market research arm IQ, along with its business marketing and creative teams in APAC and RD Content, the video content agency.
The 40-second 'anthem' film has been broken down into shorter vertical spots that will be targeted at brand managers, marketing managers, creatives and agency executives on and off platform.
The ads will guide the advertisers to a microsite that will feature various infographics with stats on the behaviour of sports fans across Facebook's family of apps.
The insights are based on Facebook IQ-commissioned research, conducted by YouGov, on how sports fans across the world consume content during global sporting events. The findings are based on a survey base of 9,173 people aged 18 to 64 in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Russia, the US and the UK.
The research found that more than one in three people surveyed follow global sporting events on both Facebook and Instagram, while around half of those who are on both Facebook and Instagram also use WhatsApp (45%) and Messenger (53%) to discuss global sporting events.
While Facebook did ask participants how they interact on rival platforms, it has not revealed the results about this topic.
Facebook rarely creates campaigns for its business audience, so it is clearly seeing a big opportunity to capture ad spend around sporting events. It said the Rio 2016 Games saw an increase of US$2.71 billion in global advertising spend.
The ambition of the campaign is both to advertise Facebook's credentials and to "walk the talk", by showing advertisers how they can use Facebook's platforms, how they tap into Olympics hype without actually mentioning the Games (due to trademark restrictions), and how they can cut through in one of the most competitive marketing moments.
These were the most common challenges that brands cited to the Facebook IQ team, when asked about advertising around the upcoming Games.
Facebook IQ’s marketing insights manager for APAC Sandra Marichal told Campaign: "Through this campaign we wanted to show power of the platform and showcase what a brand can do if they are in the situation where they want to advertise before during and after without mentioning the games."
The merits of early planning are at the heart of the campaign. Since Facebook will be competing for adspend with more real-time platforms like Twitter, the campaign flouts the benefits of building brand and association over a longer period of time.
"If you are looking into building your awareness and associating yourself with sport as a brand, you definitely want to start now," Marichal said. "Don’t expect because it is the Games you can run a normal campaign and hope for the best because the space will be crowded."
The microsite includes Facebook IQ research around second-screening, but Facebook has been careful in its messaging to position itself as complimentary to TV rather than as an alternative.
Marichal said: “We know that people are going to watch TV, but we are seeing an opportunity for brands to be more present on our platform than they have been in the past, because traditionally they would invest all media in TV which would be a missed opportunity.”
Facebook has created custom audiences — those which don’t state themselves as fans but consume a lot of sport-related content — for brands looking to advertise in the run up to the Games.