In less than a month, the 20th edition of the Fifa World Cup will commence in Brazil, the fifth-largest country in the world by geographic area and, coincidentally, population.
Though soccer was not invented there, many argue that it is the spiritual Mecca of the world’s most beloved sport.
Based on IPG Mediabrands’ “Connection Panel” research findings, 20 per cent of Thais aged 12-59 years watched soccer content regularly last year, up from about 17 per cent in 2012.
Looking deeper into Thai men’s viewing behaviour in the 25-39 age group, findings show that their number one favourite content was soccer at 38 per cent, up from 33 per cent a year earlier.
These figures show that Thailand is as passionate about soccer as any nation in the world.
Brazil is 17 times the size of Thailand, so it is hardly surprising that there are three time zones in the country.
Rio de Janeiro’s time difference from Bangkok is exactly 10 hours, which will make it a challenge for Thais to stay up and watch the World Cup matches live. If a match is played at 5pm in Rio, then we’d be halfway through our sleep at 3am. Should a match be hosted at night, then it is time to go to work already. Does it seem like a lost cause?
If we follow conventional viewing behaviour and choose not to watch a match live in the early hours of the morning, catching up on a rerun is usually the healthiest option.
Advancements in wireless technology make it easy for people to watch the games live on smartphones and tablets too, should they be commuting to work. That could be hazardous, though, so I don’t recommend it.
The question remains, are the licensed channels doing enough to exploit these opportunities? These are opportunities predetermined by basic physiological limitations of the human body.
Let’s be clear: Half of us soccer fanatics will not compromise on health even to watch world-stopping battles between Spain and Holland or Italy and England.
I couldn’t even get up to watch the Champions League final last weekend, not even with two alarms and several hits of the snooze button. Obviously age has taken its toll.
Naturally, TV ratings will be below potential. But if the broadcasters choose to create multi-platform viewing ecosystems so consumers can watch on demand or on the go, supplying official highlights at the very least, both incremental reach and target ratings will ultimately be achieved.
The winners of this initiative will be media channels, planners and clients alike.
It is a win-win situation for both marketers and consumers. Consumers get their favourite content at their own time and marketers don’t miss out on this ever-evolving behaviour to integrate their brands.
Through our proprietary “Innovative Thought Leadership” research on multi-screening behaviour in 2013, findings show that 65 per cent of people watching TV make social-media posts in relation to the content they watched at that particular time. It is behaviour that most marketers have failed to exploit.
Thai men love to comment on match analysis and participate in friendly banter with their peers online, so why can’t brands be a part of that conversation, or create an official platform where these interactions can take place without being intrusive? After all, the old adage “content is king” still holds true, especially when the World Cup is on.
In summary, I have made two very important points in this article for marketers to consider. Go multi-screen where the content is being consumed and at the time it is being consumed.
Create platforms or social engagements where conversations are taking place, provide incentives to join in, and make your brands part of their lives, not the opposite.
The infrastructure is already there to be utilised and only time will tell if marketers can evolve in parallel to the ever-changing consumer landscape.
Pradon Sirakovit is group head, strategy and innovation department, IPG Mediabrands. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.