Sony, McDonald's target Middle East

14 June 2010

DUBAI: Major advertisers such as Sony, McDonald's and Hyundai are all seeking to leverage their official connections with the World Cup to engage shoppers in the Middle East.

Sony, the consumer electronics giant, has allocated $5m (€4.1m; £3.4m) to running communications during the tournament, an increase of 20% from its typical expenditure at this time of year.

Half of its adspend will be directed to TV, with print on 20% and the remainder being divided between the internet, cinema and outdoor.

"It is very important to us because it is the world's biggest sporting event," Matthew Mathai, the company's General Manager, said.

"It is an opportunity to be very focused with our advertising at a global level and especially in the Middle East and Africa where people are passionate about football and the World Cup."

In a bid to tap in to the anticipation surrounding the World Cup, 40% of this funding was used to support Sony's Bravia brand in April, including TV spots, sales promotion and competitions.

"Everybody is watching it, so our brand prominence shoots up," Mathai said.

"It definitely gives the brand a much more youthful character and gives our promotion some kind of excitement. It's a once-in-a-lifetime campaign."

Hyundai, the auto manufacturer, is also a formal sponsor of the World Cup, and is boosting its investment in advertising by over 30% to derive the maximum benefit from this tie-up.

Omar Baddar, the car maker's marketing manager, reported that it has a "six-figure" media budget to achieve this goal in the United Arab Emirates alone.

More specifically, he suggested that forging an alliance with the one of the premier sporting contests on the planet represented a "smart move".

"We realise football is the most popular game in the world now … Hyundai saw it will be associating itself with the World Cup to connect with their customers worldwide through this social game," said Baddar.

"It makes people closer to each other and gives hope for the children of the world to be famous and enjoy the satisfaction of the game either by participating or watching it."

In contrast with Sony, Hyundai will devote the main portion of its outlay to print, with radio and the internet assuming a secondary role.

Elsewhere, the Korean firm has established links with a number of cinemas and shopping centres to show matches live on big screens, some of which will be broadcast in 3D.

McDonald's, the fast food chain, has adopted a different model, emphasising its "player escort" scheme, offering children the chance to lead players onto the pitch at games in South Africa.

"We do advertise our FIFA World Cup promotions and our association with the mammoth event aggressively on all mediums," said Rafic Fakih, McDonald's managing director in the UAE.

Data sourced from Gulf News; additional content by Warc staff