Football World Cup 2006 -- the media battle is in full swing
by Michael Heipel, Director of Exhibitions, Ifra
The good news first for all those who perhaps had doubts: Australia can become the 2006 World Champion! I will explain how in just a moment. But let’s start with a few fundamental words about this year’s no. 1 sporting event.
The figures speak for themselves: When 32 top teams from six continents meet in Germany from 9th June to 9th July 2006 for the Football World Cup, it will be a media event of a very special kind. According to FIFA, a total of about 14,000 journalists and media representatives are expected to attend, including some 4500 print journalists. The final match of the 2002 World Cup in Japan was seen by 1.1 billion viewers, and the audience for this year’s event is predicted to be considerably larger. It is estimated that worldwide a total of about 40 billion viewers will watch the games with Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and their international colleagues. The national organisation committee in Germany and FIFA are investing a budget of more than EUR 1 billion to organise the event. Some three million tickets have been issued for the 64 matches, though ten times as many could have been sold.
The battle among the media and the advertisers to catch the attention of the target audience is in full swing already, and that is just the start! There is one match that our newspaper publishing houses will be unable to win: TV has the monopoly on topicality and the experience of live reporting. Only TV brings the emotions in real time into the living room, bars and pubs, as well as to the public locations where worldwide thousands of viewers will watch the matches on big screens . In addition, the organisers have imposed many restrictions and proprietary rights that make life more difficult for publishers and that must be duly observed (For further information, see www.fifadigitalarchive.com).
But one thing is clear: no newspaper can afford to ignore the Football World Cup. No other sport gives rise to so much interest and enthusiasm worldwide –among both men and women equally. So how should newspaper publishers act in order to secure their share of attention and especially advertising revenues? How can they position themselves to steal some of the balls from the electronic media?
Concentrate on strengths
The answer is really quite simple: newspaper publishing houses should concentrate on their strengths and core competencies. And these clearly lie in service, background reporting, commentaries, local aspects. Newspaper houses can field a very good team and offer their readers orientation in the flood of information. Included on the team of modern publishing houses are large numbers of media channels that, where used cleverly, bring the decisive added value for readers, subscribers and online users. They are also a platform for advertisers on which they can effectively communicate their brand messages to the target audiences. This is all the more important because, in the flood of advertising messages destined to deluge us all via the electronic media, it is more vital than ever before that the advertising businesses should present a clear profile. Depending on the size of the publishing houses concerned, printed newspapers and special supplements, books, special DVDs, online features, mobile prize games, podcasts, etc., can play the ball back and forth to one another. The Football World Cup will undoubtedly unleash high levels of creativity and innovation at publishing houses.
Ifra has set itself the objective to promote media convergence at newspapers both by research and practice-oriented projects. Ifra’s Newsplex philosophy aims to train journalists and publishing houses in the convergent use of multiple media platforms. It is against this background that we created the Ifra XMA Cross Media Awards 2006 in order to present and reward the most innovative and creative special projects of newspaper houses in connection with the Football World Cup 2006. It will be shown which projects were especially successful and what other newspaper houses can learn from them, for future sporting and cultural events. The submitted entries will be judged by a jury of international media experts, including leading newspaper designers, experts for new media, representatives of advertising and media agencies, a trade magazine for advertising and communication and others, will judge the submitted entries. The project is supported by manufacturers who, with their products, systems and services, provide the technical basis for the convergent projects of newspaper publishing houses, including dpa Deutsche Presse Agentur, Kodak, Protec and UPM. At this year’s IfraExpo in Amsterdam (9 -12 October 2006) the winning projects will be shown in a special presentation – naturally in the appropriate sports environment. Different sized newspaper houses from Germany, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Croatia, Malaysia, Austria, Switzerland, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka and the U.S.A. have already indicated their intention to register their special Football World Cup projects for the Ifra XMA. For information about the project, visit http://www.ifra.com/xma .
This explains how Australia can become world champion this year: even if the football team does not reach the finals on 9th July in Berlin, the Australian newspaper houses can register with Ifra for the Ifra XMA Cross Media Awards up to 31st July 2006. And in this way make Australia the 2006 World Champion!
Page first published: 03.05.2006