Marketplaces, the World Cup and celebrity vs influencer marketing

There are some interesting marketing tactics being used by online marketplace Wish as the World Cup in Russia gets under way.

Online marketplaces and World Cups don’t appear to be obvious marketing bedfellows, but I was intrigued to see US online marketplace targeted me – and I assume Twitter users in general – with a range of footballer-related influencer marketing content in the build-up to this summer’s sporting showpiece in Russia.

Accompanied by the hashtag #timeonyourhands, tweets from footballers including Brazil’s Neymar, Wales’ Gareth Bale, France’s Paul Pogba, Holland’s Robin van Persie, the US’s Claudio Bravo and Tim Howard, and Italy’s Gianlugi Buffon have been promoted across social media, appearing regularly on my Twitter timeline. The short video spots highlight the footballers either opening, playing with or using products bought from – from drones to hairdressing equipment.

The timeonyourhands hashtag makes sense for the majority of those names, who all miss this year’s World Cup because their countries failed to qualify and will inevitably finding they have ‘time on their hands’ this summer. But for Neymar and Pogba, who are set to do battle in Russia over the coming weeks, the link is less obvious, although perhaps not important because they are such high-profile names in the game and can have a significant influencer marketing impact.

Celebrity kudos

Either way, to get a multitude of well-known footballers all together for one campaign, and then encourage them to share each other’s content, is a powerful influencer marketing tool. The videos themselves show the individual players viewing and reacting to each other’s broadcasts in what is a neatly layered marketing approach.

Having already started to write this ‘comment piece’ thinking I had an original idea, I noticed Fast Company beat me to it with a report of its own – and the publication’s article includes a quote from Wish’s managing director of partnerships, Sam Jones. “We started to think about the absent countries this summer, and what would their superstar players be doing while the tournament is taking place,” Jones told Fast Company. “I met all of the players in person to introduce our company, and the overall objectives of the campaign.” He highlighted the need for humour, and clearly the players were game.

Celeb vs influencer marketing

The whole campaign got me thinking about the impact of celebrities in marketing. It’s not a new thing, of course, but Wish has released its celeb-heavy campaign just at the right time, just as football fever is mounting around the world, and it certainly grabbed my attention – as both a consumer and observer of the retail industry.

I’ll be interested to see how it continues as the tournament runs its course, but as my mind has been quite focused on online marketplaces lately, having been at Newegg’s Seller Summit in London on 14 June, it led to thoughts about other promotional techniques marketplaces could use.

I put the Wish strategy to Mitesh Patel, vice president for global marketing at Newegg, who said the approach of his company – which specialises in selling consumer technology products from a variety of global brands – is to use influencer marketing wherever possible, not necessarily celebs.

He says: “If we put a celebrity in front of [our customers] they are not going to be interested.” However, if Newegg puts a YouTube gamer or a gamer who is popular on live streaming platform Twitch in front of them and they mention products or Newegg “that’s what convinces our type of customer”, he notes.

Patel adds: “We aren’t going to work with celebrities necessarily but we do work with influencers and they tend to drive our sales much more than celebrities. Celebrities will drive the brand and the awareness.”

As ever, there are so many ways competing brands can go to market. It’s not an either-or situation, with Wish also clearly using general influencer marketing for its fashion and arts & crafts lines, no more so than through its Influencer Spotlight series located on its blog.

With my interest piqued by Wish’s tactics, I’m on the look-out for more novel marketing as the World Cup in Russia runs throughout the next few weeks.

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