2 Final World Cup Lessons in Marketing Agility

Every four years, the world watches in anticipation to see who will rise victorious in the World Cup. Here in the US, we’ve spent the past month pretending our best to be avid soccer or futbol fans. (Kidding, of course, as our affinity for the “beautiful game” has clearly grown since 2010.)

But to be honest, the competition this year has been amazing. Teams have spent years building a solid foundation of teamwork, talent and coaching prowess to earn spots in the World Cup. Countless hours of preparation have come down to a few inches to determine who wins or loses — responsiveness and agility capture the golden opportunity.

Just like the World Cup teams, our marketing organizations have prepared to be agile enough to take advantage of every opportunity to connect users to our brands, convert new customers and engage with social media.

Lessons Learned


It’s OK to bend the rules. But don’t bite!

When Luis Suarez from Uruguay bit Giorgio Chiellini from Italy, the social media world lit on fire. Major brands chimed in instantly with edgy responses, allowing them to participate in the bizarre event. But though marketers cashed in, slightly bending their own branding rules to get in on the action, they didn’t go too far. Here are a couple of my favorite responses to the bite heard ‘round the world:

If marketers want to get their messages out quickly, they need the right mix … an agile team, good technology and a culture of preparation and creativity. For example, asset management technology requires preparation — digital images such as brand logos, photos, video and other rich media must be easily accessible for marketing teams to quickly join a conversation.

In this case, social teams also needed simple creative tools to recreate compelling content and the right technology to seamlessly post and monitor approved brand images and video to a myriad of social channels.

Following the incident, Suarez was suspended for the remainder of the World Cup and Uruguay lost in the next round. The bottom line: Never bite.

Don’t get a yellow card. Stay in the game.

Teams work best when every player knows his role and all hands are on deck. In soccer, when a player receives a yellow card, it’s likely because he went too far, played too aggressively or purposefully broke the rules. He's likely received warnings from the referee to slow down because his play is too rough.


A second yellow card boots him from the game. This is incredibly painful because — unlike in other sports — you can’t replace an ejected player with one from the bench. The game that started 11 versus 11 is now being played a man down. Your penalty just put your team at a severe disadvantage. This penalty system governs the game and ensures fair play.

With global and agile marketing teams, having everyone in the game works best. We want our marketing teams to be agile and free to move at the speed of the customer. However, as in soccer, we need some guidelines, warnings and penalties to keep order.

This is particularly true when managing digital assets for brands and global campaigns. If a team member repeatedly violates the rules, subverts the process and places the integrity of the system at risk, the asset management administrator or marketing operations lead may want to consider placing that individual on the sidelines.

For example, we’ve seen some organizations openly prevent new digital assets from entering the shared system unless it is populated with correct and complete metadata entries. Having the correct metadata ensures that the digital asset can be found and repurposed, instead of lost among a large trove of images and video. Instead of giving your team member the boot, focus on additional coaching, training, and establishing safeguards in the system to keep the entire marketing team in the game.

The World Cup teams will have another four years to rebuild, retool and prepare for 2018. But for digital marketers, especially those who weren’t prepared to cash in on the Suarez bite, how much time do we really have?

Title image by Andre Dureo / Shutterstock.com.