June 28 2018

Business Goals - Der richtige Matchplan entscheidet/ It’s all about the right match plan

Germany, FIFA World Cup

Please find the English translation of the column below.

Heute erscheint der fünfte Teil der Netzathleten Kolumne von Dennis Trautwein, Vice President von Octagon Germany über die WM 2018.

Diesen finden Sie auf der Netzathleten Seite hier.


28 Jun 2018 Dennis Trautwein

Now the wheat is separated from the chaff during the World Cup in Russia; from an athletic point of view. The Round of 16 is coming up. And the DFB Team is not part of it. Hardly anyone could have expected the failure of the reigning champion during the group stage, even though it has happened multiple times prior in the past that the current world champion was dethroned prematurely. I’m not going to get into a root cause analysis.  That’s other people’s job. Without question though, the poor result of the team has damaged its image.

Let’s look forward to exciting matches in the second phase of this World Cup without German participation. For these all-or-nothing games you have to develop new strategies to achieve success. Those wanting to prevail need a coherent match plan. Even for players off the field, the World Cup partners and sponsors that you see on TV each day – sometimes more, sometimes less obvious – it is about standing out. You reach TV viewers with billboard advertisement, but the millions of onsite supporters have to be reached in a different way and need to be enthused for a brand; especially in social media networks that are much more than just virtual rooms these days.

No question about it: The World Cup in Brazil 2014 was already branded a Social Media World Cup, but here in Russia, we are experiencing an even higher level. The variety of channels and digital play options definitely leaves the World Cup in 2014 in its shadows. Of course, sponsors have noticed this as well. A lot of partner activations are happening online. In addition, FIFA now operates on a higher digital level, too. FIFA followed along with the market, launched projects within China’s social networks, which of course was due to many Chinese firms having joined FIFA. Nevertheless, for many companies emotionalizing the brand is not that important. In China it is sufficient to join in frequently to show: We are global players.

For us, it is very much about advancing technology and especially about using social media channels for our customers to reach fans with branded content to add value – and thereby, through respective associations, create value for the respective brand as well. For example, for the World Cup in 2006, together with Budweiser, Octagon transformed the so far barely used marketing option “Man of the Match” – experts of a FIFA commission chose the best player of a match – into a true fan activation. Since the World Cup 2010 in South Africa, it is a live fan voting story, and while the brand is not immediately tied to the action, it is still placed into the immediate environment of the game. Since 2014 the trophy is also being presented by fans, right after the game a short interview takes place in the player tunnel, held by consumers, influencers or celebs and based on fan questions generated prior via FIFA channels. The result is being distributed across those same channels again – almost live, i.e. with only a minor time delay. #BUDMOTM counts as one of the most successful hashtags of the World Cup.

Of course, these types of activations are always subject to FIFA commercial usage regulations. Here I have to point out that these regulations are primarily set up to protect FIFA partners and sponsors. The rules are also set up to prevent ambush marketing and to strengthen related brands: starting with the mascot, the logo and event titles, everything is protected. A ‘closed shop’ that is only accessible for FIFA and its partners. And even those accessible rights are defined very strictly. Branding rules outline everything in great detail. Sometimes you hear from companies: “We are paying so much, why aren’t we allowed to do this or that?” That’s why you need the expertise to interpret the rules to extract the maximum possible outcome for the respective brand.

If we are successful to direct the right messages and content for a brand into the right channels, we can say that we were successful with our offer of experience, network and creativity.  This way – and this is important from an entrepreneurial point of view of course – our USP, our unique selling point, manifests itself. When campaigns are effective, it shows: We understand FIFA, football and the fan.

To what extent this understanding has an effect on whether a fan can order beer in a stadium and whether that beer is served cold, I’ll explain in my next article. Let’s see who will still be on the road at that time to win the coveted title.


Until then, yours,

Dennis Trautwein


About Dennis Trautwein:

The football World Cup in Germany in 2006 was Dennis Trautwein’s personal ‘Sommermärchen’ (summer fairy tale) – the first World Cup experience for the then 26-year-old. His job at the World Cup Organizing Committee was the perfect entry into his career – and a lasting one. World Cups were going to play a major role for the now 38-year-old upon his start with Octagon Germany in 2007. His strategic focus was on the following FIFA World Cups in 2010, 2014 – and of course now the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Dennis Trautwein is one of the leading sport marketing experts in this country – and an absolute connoisseur of the scene.