The phrase “The Beautiful Game” means something profound to football fans all over the world. I first discovered it watching the Euro 2008 tournament. I quickly became a Germany fan because of the way they played. They were technical and calculated…and also had cool names like “Schweinsteiger.” Those first two attributes the modern day marketer also needs to embrace and embody. Germany was up against the Spanish, who play “Tiki-taka” style football with short passes, working the ball through various channels (not to mention flopping). Just like in football, a great marketer needs to move campaigns through different channels and be poised to respond to threats and opportunities.

Currently, the game that so enthralled me is mired in controversy, due to their governing body FIFA. When the 2014 tournament geared up to take place in Brazil, there were fervent citizen protests. Numerous reports in the media focused on the opposition. None were as powerful, poignant and hilarious as John Oliver’s initial report on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight. It’s a good 13-minute watch. During this first report, Oliver slammed Budweiser for their unwavering support of FIFA.

Fast forward to June 2015. We’ve had a great tournament and the ​Germans claimed the ultimate football prize in Brazil. However, the controversy surrounding FIFA only picked up steam with damning allegations of bribery and corruption. Yet again, John Oliver was there to cover it and Budweiser was slammed again. This time, he unleashed his satirical wrath upon their product “Bud Light Lime.”

After this report blasting Budweiser (along with other major sponsors such as Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa), Twitter traffic surged. Mentions absolutely skyrocketed for Budweiser, growing a whopping 525%. While Oliver’s rant was hilarious, it was also a pretty negative review of Budweiser’s product, coupled with a promise to consume the vile stuff if only Budweiser would cancel their sponsorship. His plea got the Twittersphere buzzing and spread like wildfire.

Marketing A Beautiful Game Champagne

Well, football fans across the world rejoiced when FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter resigned amongst the allegations. John Oliver fulfilled his promise on air in brilliant fashion while Budweiser embraced the airtime with a themed Bud light Lime backdrop. Once again, it produced “word of mouth” buzz reported across multiple social media and news outlets, including a tweet by John Oliver featuring a picture of a bucket of ice-cold Bud Light Lime. While Bud Light acknowledged his tweet by calling John Oliver a man of his word, they could have done more in my opinion, by playing off the fact he referred to their product as “champagne” in that tweet. It garnered an exponential number of engagements with 23k retweets and 30k favorites.

In the world of online marketing, social media allows your consumer to be your best or worst marketer. Googling the search term “word of mouth marketing” yields 41,800,000 results (.47 seconds). Coca-Cola has been historically great at “word of mouth” Twitter campaigns. In this digital age of social media, word travels fast and nowhere faster than Twitter. Brands have an opportunity to embrace both positive and negative publicity there, strategizing to make the right moves to score, like any skilled football player on the playing field.

Sadly, while I will never be a world-class forward for a country that treats Football as a religion, I’ve found my “Beautiful Game” in marketing, and can’t wait to see what the future holds in the social realm.