Facebook flaunts sports credentials in run-up to Tokyo 2020

Social platform is going after brands' lucrative sporting event budgets.

Facebook is attempting to attract brands looking to advertise around the Olympic Games with a business-to-business campaign trumpeting its audience of sports fans.

The platform has enlisted acclaimed director Jack Weatherley, who has directed ads for Nike and Uefa, to create a slick campaign encouraging brands to "start your 2020 game plan now", while advertising Facebook as the go-to platform to reach sports fans.

"To win in 2020, preparation is everything," the campaign says. "We have everything you need to prepare."

"Give your game everything", which rolls out globally today, has been created by Facebook's digital insights and market research arm IQ, along with its business marketing and creative teams in Asia-Pacific and video content agency RD Content.

The 40-second film has been broken down into shorter vertical spots that will be targeted at brand managers, marketing managers, creatives and agency executives on and off the platform.

They will guide the advertisers to a microsite that will feature various infographics with stats on the behaviour of sports fans across Facebook's family of apps.

The insights are based on Facebook IQ-commissioned research, conducted by YouGov, on how sports fans around the world consume content during global sporting events. The study surveyed 9,173 people aged 18 to 64 in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the UK and the US.

It found that more than one in three respondents follow global sporting events on both Facebook and Instagram, while about half of those who are on both Facebook and Instagram also use WhatsApp (45%) and Messenger (53%) to discuss global sporting events.

While Facebook did ask participants how they interact on rival platforms, it has not revealed the results on this.

Facebook rarely creates campaigns for its business audience. It said Rio 2016 saw an increase of $2.71bn in global advertising spend.

The ambition of the campaign is both to advertise Facebook's credentials and to "walk the talk" by showing advertisers how they can use Facebook's platforms, tap into the hype without actually mentioning the Olympic Games (due to trademark restrictions) and cut through in one of the most competitive marketing moments.

Sandra Marichal, Facebook IQ’s marketing insights manager for Asia-pacific, told Campaign: "Through this campaign, we wanted to show power of the platform and showcase what a brand can do if they are in the situation where they want to advertise before during and after without mentioning the Games."

The merits of early planning are at the heart of the campaign. Since Facebook will be competing for adspend with more real-time platforms such as Twitter, the activity highlights the benefits of brand-building over a longer period of time.

"If you are looking into building your awareness and associating yourself with sport as a brand, you definitely want to start now," Marichal said. "Don’t expect because it is the Games you can run a normal campaign and hope for the best, because the space will be crowded."

The microsite includes Facebook IQ research around second-screening, but Facebook has been careful in its messaging to position itself as complementary to TV rather than as an alternative.

Marichal said: "We know that people are going to watch TV, but we are seeing an opportunity for brands to be more present on our platform than they have been in the past, because traditionally they would invest all media in TV, which would be a missed opportunity."

Facebook has created custom audiences – those who don’t state themselves as fans but consume a lot of sport-related content – for brands looking to advertise in the run-up to the Games.

A version of this story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific

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