Major sporting events, such as the recent World Cup, are a veritable boon for newspapers and news brands. Supporters want to follow every minute of their team’s play, celebrate goals with fellow fans, and discuss the latest match in the finest detail.

Indeed, the period during which the Belgium World Cup squad played resulted in a one-third increase in pageviews for HLN mobile (Het Laatste Nieuws’ mobile application) compared to same period of time during the previous year. Newspaper sales also rose significantly on the days following Belgium’s games.

Capitalising on relevant current events helps elevate brand awareness
Capitalising on relevant current events helps elevate brand awareness

“Top topicals” enable brands to rapidly tap into current events

Sporting competitions such as these provide marketers the perfect opportunity for tapping into current events and linking their brand to national pride. And it’s precisely such hot-off-the-press events that are the news brands’ strength. They also boast the advantage of being able to work to extremely tight deadlines, which is essential when winning or losing is so hard to predict.

The use of “top topicals” is nothing new. Brands have been harnessing these creative advertisements to link themselves to current events for years. Tapping into predictable or unpredictable events often leads to surprising and particularly effective advertising.

The Belgian newspaper, Het Laatste Nieuws, took things one stage further during this year’s World Cup. On the final Saturday of the World Cup, it made the second and third pages of the newspaper available to advertisers wishing to link their advertisements to the national squad. This unique placement on the most-read pages of the newspaper further enhanced the campaigns’ impact.

Strong results for brand and campaign

The campaigns didn’t go unnoticed. Post-tests revealed an average of 62% of the readers recalled the advertisements. In men, this percentage was even higher (64.5%). In this respect, “top topicals” perform better in the field of “ad recall” than an average 1/1 page in a newspaper (57% recall).

Both brands already enjoyed an extremely strong awareness among the general public. Nevertheless, the campaigns further enhanced brand awareness by an average of 2.6% (from 95.7% to 98.3%).

The Net Promoter Score for both brands also received a boost from readers who saw the campaign. This rose by 14 points for Coca-Cola and 21 points for Proximus.

Linking a promotional message to current events in a creative way actively strengthens the campaign’s impact. More readers recalled the ads, and the brands scored better on the various brand KPIs.

Not all media is bestowed such “on-the-ball” responsiveness. News brands are particularly well-suited to this, owing to their speed and flexibility. This way, both brands and news brands are able to score during high-profile events.