While the world watches, enjoys and ponders the long-term effects a positive World Cup will bring to the southern African contintent, it is interesting to wonder even more about how the best practices and experiences brands, fans and the media will work in the favor of Brazil. The South American country will have a rare double in the next decade, hosting World Cup in 2014 followed by the Olympics in 2016, and the good will built out by the outreach and discoveries in South Africa this month can bode very well for the growth of the business of sport in South America going forward.
By no means are any of these undertakings cheap or trivial. The run-up to the World Cup brought many groups critical of the spend to promote such a global event at the expense of dollars that could have been spent at a much more grassroots level. However the newly created infrastructure and the exposure level brought to Southern Africa by the World Cup may still benefit the people there most going forward, perhaps more than any other world-class event before. The feeling of Africa itself being far off and disconnected from the world may even dissipate over time, as the World Cup exposes people and personalities to a world that is virtually next door and geographically accessable more now than ever before. The social issues of Brazil are not that much different from any emerging nation, although dealing with the challenges of a new world economy in South America may be easier than in a country that is advancing a step slower like South Africa. The passion and global success of Brazil in the sport of soccer also gives the country a nit of an added lift going into 2014, a lift that had to be built from scratch in Africa.
What these positive experiences for brands and for consumers mean in a global sports marketing landscape is truly revolutionary. The start of the exposure process with emerging economies in the Beijing Olympics led to more positive experiences now in South Africa and will set a grand stage for Brazil going forward. These efforts also show that it is both OK and smart business to work with emerging companies to host world class events, as much (and maybe more) for the social aspects as for the sporting elements.
While it is nice to have new stadia, it is even nicer to have new consumers who may better understand the people who live around such stadia, and is even better for brands to understand how much better to work with those energing communities. Will all these events lead to an Indian games soon? Perhaps. Maybe the Sochi Olympics will also help. Also maybe in the future those established “big event” nations in Noirth America and Europe can even pick up some best practices on the brand value that World Cup is bringing to the socialization of sport.
There were many skeptics over time when leadership at World Cup and the Olympic movement chose to bring the events to new places, and there was much worry in a challenged economy about the cost both on the dollar and the social scale. However, as one looks both back and ahead, it seems like the value outweighs the cost, and the biggest benefits are yet to come to the people of the world.