Top 3 tips for marketers ahead of African Cup of Nations 2019 in Egypt

Dina Barakat, Sara Hamdan May 2019

Football fandom is reaching fever pitch in Egypt as the country prepares to host The African Cup of Nations this summer. It’s a big win for the country which has played host 4 times and won the title 7 times. Hosting the African Cup marks a boost across industries, particularly tourism, and will coincide with the reopening of multiple stadiums in Cairo that can accommodate up to 80,000 people each..

What does this mean for brands? In terms of searches online, in Egypt, African Cup comes second only to the World Cup. People care about details such as game times, statistics, player records etc. Here are our top 3 tips for brands to keep in mind to stand out during the African Cup this year:

1. Content strategy doesn’t need to be limited to football alone. A winning strategy expands to include the culture of games.

  •  Community - Football is bigger than the actual game; it’s very much about the cultural elements including gatherings to watch the game, snacking with friends and predicting the scores with colleagues. Successful ads have drawn inspiration from this sense of community, such as Pepsi in this ad and Vodafone Egypt in this ad that also features a celebrity cameo with Mohamed Salah.
  • Hospitality - The African Cup brings many Egyptians home from abroad to watch the games, as well as welcoming and hosting tourists to the event. For context, in 2017 when Gabon hosted the African Cup, search queries related to travel and tourism increased by 20% YoY. Major sporting events are a boon for the travel and tourism sector, as expected, and brands should capitalize on this. Take a look at this spot-on ad from Egypt Air ahead of the World Cup as an example.
  • Fandom - Understanding what football fans care about is key. This deep passion for the sport and team spirit are reflected online in various ways. Here is a detailed look at the football audience, and also, make sure to check out this infographic on the World Cup detailing the insights that motivate fans, including entertainment and inspiration.

2. Sports content appeals to a wider audience than just sports fans. Reach broad, but smart.

  •  Wider fanbase - Love of the game is not limited to die-hard football fans, as we discovered in our in-depth analysis on the football audience. Rather, watching games during big tournaments like the African Cup of Nations is as much about a sense of community and togetherness, than it is about nationalistic pride. It is key to keep this in mind in order to target the right people,which is why having a broader reach may work to your advantage.
  • Audience targeting - as opposed to demographic targeting, audience targeting can also be used to your advantage when you have a deeper understanding of a football fan. Audience targeting allows you to reach people based on who they are, their interests and habits, what they’re actively researching, or how they have interacted with your business. The result is a much more engaged consumer whose needs you are more likely to meet.

3. Play with timings: before, after and real-time campaigns.

  • Basing your campaign on signals and insights will deliver impactful results. Public tools such as Google Trends can give insight into popular search terms. Take a look at this case study for an example of how Adidas leveraged insights for a clever, real-time campaign during the Super Bowl and the FIFA World Cup.
  • In terms of building momentum around live sports events like the African Cup, data suggests that over half of YouTube’s sports-content viewers watch video-related content before sports events. Interestingly, YouTubers also enjoying watching content simultaneously, with data revealing that just under half of all sports fans watch sports or fitness videos on the online platform while also watching live sports on TV. So the key is to have an always on approach, because football fans seek much more than just game-time. It’s an around-the-clock, holistic experience that you can leverage.
  • Consider collaborating with a popular YouTube creator, like Sayed I with 1.5 million subscribers, to reach an audience authentically. For example, in 2015, Volkswagen invited Saudi Arabian YouTuber Jagabov to play a FIFA video game in one of their showrooms with a Saudi football player with great success. This is particularly relevant to real-time marketing as YouTubers can create content quickly and reactively.

Embracing a seasonal moment and having a deeper understanding of a loyal audience, like football fans cheering on their favorite teams during the African Cup of Nations, is a great way for brands to connect with consumers. A winning strategy can easily include a scope wider than just football fans, tapping into a sense of community and wider implications to peripheral industries, including the hospitality and tourism sector. The idea is to target audiences before, during or after games, with the right messaging at the right time. May the best team win!