NEW YORK: Many major advertisers are beginning to roll out campaigns linked to the FIFA World Cup, which most believe provides a unique way of connecting with consumers.

Joe Tripodi, Coca-Cola's chief marketing and commercial officer, argued that this year's event, hosted by South Africa and starting in June, was a key part of the company's plans for 2010.

Coca-Cola has been an official partner of the soccer World Cup since 1978.

"Football is the biggest sport in the world ... If you had to look in the world for a passion point you cannot find a bigger one than this," Tripodi said.

"We're not doing this because we love soccer. We're doing this because we think soccer is the best vehicle or conduit in order to sell more products, build our brands and build that emotional connection with consumers."

The company has based its multinational ad campaign for the World Cup around extravagant goal celebrations, a concept that was originally conceived by Santo, an Argentine agency.

Coca-Cola presented this "big idea" to 13 other agencies, and charged them to create relevant communications on this theme.

As part of this process, the soft drinks giant has also signed a deal with YouTube covering 120 countries, which encourages netizens to vote for the best celebration and upload their own videos.

Elsewhere, Visa has adapted the "Go" platform which it first employed during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to promote its sponsorship of the World Cup.

Its "Go Fans" initiative covers print, TV and outdoor ads, as well as forging marketing tie-ups with more than 500 financial institutions in 90 countries.

The credit card provider has also built a Match Planner app for Facebook, and is asking users to add videos to the social network cheering on their team, with a prize of a trip to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"Football fans are undeniably passionate about the FIFA World Cup and the teams they follow, and social media provides a unique platform to help them express their views and connect with friends," Antonio Lucio, Visa's cmo, said.

McDonald's is also running a contest offering children the chance to lead players onto the pitch in South Africa, and giving women in the country the opportunity to take part in dance routines before matches.

These examples are indicative of the fact that the fast food chain has sought to combine multi-market schemes with more localised programmes.

"There are always some things that we can do globally, and digital is something that can be global," Dean Barrett, McDonald's svp, global marketing, said.

"But the reality is that the World Cup is team-driven and local-market driven."

While not an official sponsor of the World Cup, Nike is just one of the advertisers that will seek to leverage the possibilities it provides.

The sportswear firm's new Write the Future campaign emphasises how Nike products can help young footballers improve their performance, and is centred on portals like Facebook and Twitter, but will also employ TV.

"This consumer lives life digitally, so the centre of the campaign is the digital football community.” Trevor Edwards, Nike's vp, brand and category management, said.

"While digital mediums are at the centre of our efforts we are unmatched in our ability to create an emotional connection through television."

Data sourced from AdAge, Nike, Visa, Coca-Cola; additional content by Warc staff