Newsbrands and the World Cup (1st NewsWorks article)

Recently I’ve been freelancing for NewsWorks, the marketing body representing national newspaper in the world of advertisers and ad agencies.  They asked me to write something for their Friday newsletter (“Nuggets”) around the World Cup.

On a week running up to a big sporting event (especially a football event) newspaper groups go into overdrive building a sense of anticipation.  All want to be seen to encompass the spirit of the British press by having fun, being imaginative, whipping up excitement and backing Our Boys.  

Equally, in this digital age they are keen to show off ‘digital firsts’; using technology differently or engaging readers in a manner suited to websites and apps.

The extra space gifted them by their digital properties (no more are they constrained totally by print runs) means there is plenty to look at and I spent a long time digging around looking at some fun material.  

Here is the article I finally submitted.  These are some of the things Newsbrand content providers have dreamt up. If you’re in the business of thinking up native advertising ideas then this is a good chance to see how the content producers of Fleet Street do it.

This week the newsbrand content creators have been building up to the World Cup. The pages are a master class in engagement.

There are the ‘main event’ articles about Brazil 2014 news but there are also the quirky features that create a carnival atmosphere.

Here’s a taste of that carnival spirit.

Simulation.  The Telegraph is screening every game before it happens! Along with EA Sports they’re simulating all 64 games on an Xbox 360. They kicked off before the tournament began by screening the Brazil vs. Croatia opening game.

The new Paul the Octopus. Zico The Mirror snail predicts Brazil will win it. The Independent profiles other psychic animals. The Guardian lets you “unleash your own inner psychic octopus” and see your predictions visualised and compared with other users (using info-Giraffe-ics, probably).

Penalties.  The Mirror let you to take a “penalty click”. Your mouse click directs a real machine to fire a real ball at a real goalkeeper in Wembley (if not at Wembley). So now you can experience the thrill of being an England player (if you miss).

Nudge Unit. The Independent passes on the wisdom of the government’s behavioural economists who say, “every penalty that has been hit high down the middle in a World Cup shoot-out has resulted in a goal – yet despite this, only 17% of penalties are aimed there”. Also, the team that goes first wins 60% of the time – so the coin plays a part and the luckiest tossers win.

England win, Germany lose – somehow. MailOnline show Germany are the biggest losers in a discomfort ranking based on games likely to be miserably humid. Meanwhile The Telegraph sift data to show England are the team with all the right attributes to win – including one questionable attribute, “exiting in the last 16 four years ago”.

Drugs in the 60’s. The Sun channels 1966 by naming the 66 best ever England players. The Guardian revisits ’66 by investigating claims that three of the German players tested positive for banned substance. They stir national pride by revealing the amphetamine test was a British innovation later exported globally.

Much effort has created this content carnival. Perhaps the most painstaking was that of the Telegraph designer who made Roy Hodgeson do the John Barnes rap. The final word belongs to Roy.

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