Castrol Revs Up Marketing Engine with FIFA World Cup

Over the last several years Castrol has snuck into the global soccer industry and has not only made themselves relevant in the market, but they have brought thought leadership to performance analysis and have shown that they can compete with the big name brands for share of voice.

Over the last couple years the Castrol Index has been used in MLS to bring on-field performance analysis to an entirely new dimension, measuring every move of every player throughout the course of every game for the entire season and tracking whether those movements helped or hurt the team, and rating each player accordingly. From a business perspective, this was brilliant from Castrol in terms of the strategies they employed to break into a new market, in an extremely innovative and meaningful way.

If a brand is looking to enter a market with long-term goals, especially a mature market such as soccer, at least as far as brands are concerned, one of the best ways to ensure success is to come with completely game-changing thought leadership. Castrol certainly achieved this with the Castrol Index. It isn’t just that the tool is novel and brings credibility and exciting new ways of thinking to the game, but it is something that has real longevity that is completely proprietary to Castrol, allowing them to have a very own-able impact and positive influence on the game and the industry. The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is the first to employ the Castrol Index, and it is hard to imagine the tool not being a staple in future tournaments.

But how did Castrol, a lubricants expert in the field of motor sport, become synonymous with soccer? Business of Soccer had the chance to sit down with Castrol’s Global Sponsorship Communications Manager, Paul Goodmaker, as well as Tracy Drelich, Associate Promotions and Sponsorship Manager at Castrol to discuss the brand’s success in the soccer industry and their go-to-market strategy for the World Cup in Brazil.

Goodmaker explained how Castrol came to be not only involved in the soccer industry, but a leader as well:

Over the years people have become less connected to their cars and their engines so we use the global passion point of soccer to increase our reach and to engage with those audiences. Football gives us an opportunity to talk to a wider audience, therefore increasing our brand exposure.

When we decided to go into soccer it was important for us to find a clear brand and we looked at what we could bring that was different to the game of soccer and for fans so we could actually provide a point of view. Castrol’s expertise in our day jobs of making lubricants is using our expertise to improve performance. When we looked at that and saw where there was an opportunity for us to use that in soccer, the area of performance analysis was an area that immediately came to light for us.

The World Cup was the perfect opportunity for Castrol to really test how their newfound strategic partnership with soccer would fair on a truly global stage, as it is the largest sporting event in the world. According to MLS, the USA vs. Portugal match drew over 24.7 million viewers in the United States alone – tied for the most watched soccer match ever in the US with the Spain vs. Netherlands World Cup final match in 2010. That kind of reach on TV alone makes for a fantastic opportunity for brands like Castrol to connect with a vast audience in multiple key markets across the globe. If you add the exponentially growing and increasingly powerful social media web of channels into the mix and you have a perfect storm scenario for Castrol and other FIFA World Cup sponsors.

Goodmaker explained how Castrol went about the daunting, yet very exciting task of creating a comprehensive global strategy for the World Cup in Brazil:

Our activation strategy around 2014 had two tiers to it: pre-tournament activation and then in-tournament activation. From an in-tournament perspective we’ve got the Castrol Index and the Predictor Challenge. Our main activation from a digital perspective was actually before the tournament, called ‘Footkhana’. We wanted to do something really different and unexpected around this World Cup that really played to the heart of the Castrol brand using innovation and doing things differently.

So we actually brought together the pioneers of the world of football and the pioneers of motor sport, Neymar and Ken Block. We got them to push the bandwidth of performance and attempt groundbreaking new skills in a film which launched in April of this year on YouTube.

Goodmaker shared that this video, which has more than 15.5 million views on YouTube and millions of views in China plus another 10 million views through other content activation from Castrol, is the most successful social video for Castrol to date, as well as the the most successful in FIFA World Cup history for any sponsor…ever.

Castrol didn’t just stop with the wildly successful YouTube video and ensuing viral campaign, no. They also enjoyed over +370k registrants for the online Predictor Challenge initiative hosted on FIFA.com, and also provided one US based fan the opportunity of a lifetime. The “Castrol Correspondant” is a program that gave a hand-picked fan the chance to go to Brazil to the Word Cup and travel with the US Men’s National Team (USMNT), with special privileges to go into the locker room, listen to press conferences, and experience the World Cup as no other fan has ever before. He doesn’t just get to experience it, but he gets to share it via social media channels so that other fans can see what he’s been up to and get a glimpse into the life he’s leading while in Brazil.

Tracy Drelich explained more about the details of the program and why it was important to Castrol’s overall strategy for the World Cup:

Our goal was to give fans access that most fans couldn’t get. We asked ourselves, how can we get something unique and different, and not just some of those generic images that you can buy?

The Castrol Correspondent is certainly providing those unique and differentiating images and experiences to Castrol that they can then share with their broader audiences via social media and other vehicles, achieving that goal of meaningful differentiation.

All of Castrol’s efforts around the soccer industry and this World Cup have truly made an impact and have been received with wild success. According to Goodmaker, Castrol is the most shared FIFA World Cup sponsor thus far at the 2014 tournament, ousting top brands like Adidas, Visa, and Hyundai among others. It just serves to show that a comprehensive global 360 go-to-market strategy coupled with true thought leadership and innovation can allow even the new guys on the block to compete in a well-established industry – and more importantly, win.

What do you think about Castrol’s entrance into the soccer market and their activation strategy for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil? Let us know in the comment section below, or via Facebook or Twitter.

Reporting on the business side of the world's game.