Telemundo begins its first World Cup campaign with only 13 months to go

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Anomaly's first work for the Spanish-language channel is a somber, bilingual homage to fans and players.

The best soccer players in the world don’t meet for another World Cup Championship until next year, but the hype is already beginning. Telemundo, which will carry the Spanish-language broadcast of the game for the first time in 2018, unveiled the tagline for its new World Cup campaign Sunday night during the Premier League championships: "Esto es solo el comienzo."

"This is only the beginning."

It was a fitting platform for the debut, because the 60-second spot from Anomaly New York actually promoted Telemundo’s broadcast of next month’s Confederations Cup, a pre-cursor tournament that serves as a dry run for the World Cup, the second most popular sporting event in the world behind only the Olympics. As a choir sings Metallica’s 1992 single "Nothing Else Matters," athletes, fans and stadium workers solemnly prepare for the games. A final title card in Spanish reads "Official channel of the FIFA World Cup" next to the Telemundo and 2018 World Cup logos.

It was important that the spot feel "epic, that it feels game changing, and more importantly that it feels different and new for this market," said Giovanni Villamar, managing director at Anomaly. "Telemundo is trying to set the bar high for arguably the most important property they’ve ever had."

The anthem spot includes references familiar to hardcore soccer fans: a Mexican shrine featuring soccer paraphernalia and offerings to saints, a young fan getting a haircut meant to emulate Chilean player Arturo Vidal. These smaller stories will be pulled out into 30-second spots that will roll out over the next week.

Last night’s spot ran on many NBC networks, including NBC, Telemundo, CNBC, E!, MSNBC, SYFY, and USA. But while the singing in the spot is in English, the title cards are in Spanish. Fox owns the rights to the next three English-language World Cup broadcasts, for which it paid $400 million, so "This is just the beginning" targets Spanish-speaking and Spanish-preferred viewers—those who need a broadcast in Spanish and those who would choose a broadcast in Spanish if given the option. "We’ve seen progressively in the last two World Cups, there is a lot of interest in the US," Villamar said. Soccer stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are becoming as popular as superstars like LeBron James.

In 2014, Univision’s Spanish broadcast of the World Cup final attracted 9.2 million viewers, compared to 17.3 million for the English broadcast. While the Super Bowl regularly tops 100 million viewers, the NBA finals is lucky to hit 15 million. The market is poised to grow, too. Worldwide, 3.2 billion people tuned in to watch some part of the 2014 World Cup—45 percent of the world’s population at the time. A commensurate share of the American market would top 75 million viewers.

The Telemundo campaign will likely become the most visible part of Anomaly’s "Last Silo" mission. At the beginning of 2016, the agency pledged to remove the walls that separate Hispanic marketing from general market campaigns. Earlier this year, the agency created a spot for Johnnie Walker featuring a bilingual version of Woody Guthrie’s "This Land Was Made for You and Me" sung by LA band Chicano Batman.

"The Telemundo work feels very different than what we’re accustomed to seeing from a Hispanic sports marketing campaign," Villamar said, who spent 15 years in Hispanic marketing before coming to Anomaly. "We would probably see a lot of color, a lot of music, barbecues." The World Cup campaign shies away from those tropes, he added.

Instead, Telemundo challenged the agency to create a campaign that could compete with work coming from a mainstream band like Nike, Villamar said. It also wanted to distinguish itself from rival Univision, which has carried the Spanish World Cup broadcast for the last several decades. "They’re redefining what Hispanic marketing looks like," he added, "and we’re all very much on the same page when it comes to that."