I love this footage and the view it provides. Thank you for sharing this. I viewed this several times, fascinated by these individuals’ (very) active watching. The pulling of hair is most excellent.
From the description, and from Sylvia’s comments, I am fascinated by the geography and how it reflects the people, culture, and society. TV coverage of World Cup 2014 swept back from stadiums to show large parties around screens outside. I was somewhat discomforted by the division between those inside and outside, those with and without tickets. The stadiums themselves were such a struggle within Brazil; I took interest in those stadium walls separating those with enough resources to acquire tickets and those without.
I even mapped Cidade Tiradentes. I am curious about the use of “periphery” and “outskirts” in the narrative, and the appearance of Cidad Tiradentes on the border between green and brown areas of the map. Was the experience significantly different closer to the city? What happens 1, 5, 10 miles farther “out?”
I am further drawn by questions about the positioning of the people in the video as they watch the game. I over-interpret the position of the people in the shop – those inside and outside, those sitting and standing, those with chairs and without.
The communitarian dimension is interesting, Chris. Sports and sports media consumption have long functioned as mechanisms for community building (albeit often through processes of exclusion, historically for women, but also the “other” team/community). We can think of the communitarian dimension playing out in a slightly different way on these services, though. Rather than just having people form community by watching and identifying with a team (as consumers), these services often offer chat functions for people to communicate with one another about the game as it’s going on. It can be likened to Twitter’s “second screen” chat to accompany the P2P content. This seems to present enhanced opportunities for community building, albeit with all the exclusionary potential of a chat room (e.g., digital divide, gendered communication norms). For a league/programmer, this also introduces a contradiction that I didn’t have space to elaborate on above — if you successfully shut down a P2P stream, you also run the risk of shutting down mechanisms for building fandom, such as the chat communities.
Thanks for an interesting post. I want to focus on the communitarian aspects of streaming matches. A friend of mine from Haiti once told me that match streaming, or more accurately a form of satellite transmission hacking, was a common practice in poorer parts of the world. Given that very few individuals can afford the approved rate, particularly in places with weaker telecomm infrastructure, mass viewings centered around bars and cafes were extremely common. This is anecdotal, of course, but it sets me to thinking about how watching sports is often a communal activity and how IP regimes, in addition to laws that control freedom of assembly, can shape the contours of communal activity. While Americans and Europeans may be able to go to the pub and watch with relative (legal) ease and comfort, people of the Global South often have little choice to engage in illegal activity to participate in communal sports watching. Are these firms less involved with these markets? Do they have plans to impose First World IP doctrines on poorer parts of the world?
Thanks for your comment. What I like about your observation is that you unpack multiple narrative possibilities as well as the various paths those narratives can take. I think you’re on to something when you note that meaning is actively cultivated by corporate marketers. It suggests something fundamental about how meaning can be more than simply attached, through mechanisms such as juxtaposition or metaphor, but can be crafted through longitudinal cultivation of particular meanings. In terms of Coke, and your subsequent post (thanks again for participating), these meanings are also subject to legal regimes that actively police possible meanings. Its as though meaning is now subject to vertical integration in an economic chain. Thoughts.
Thanks for your comment. I think you identify another interesting site of analysis. I didn’t discuss it in my post, limited space and all that, but I think there are dimensions of cosmopolitanism in Coke’s marketing and the World Cup that run up against the nationalism, consumerism, and depoliticization present in international sporting tournaments. The K’Nann song is a synergistic marketing tool, as much as it is also a song. Interestingly, people put their own spin on the song to voice their own desires and interests. I wonder, given Thomas Corrigan’s post for this week, if Coke policed these action or permitted them as a way to gain greater recognition. Whatever the case may be, cosmopolitan engagement is subject to the vicissitudes of Coke’s power to control intellectual property, and thus they have the power to shape the contours of such engagement.
Thanks for your comment. I became aware of the “Budweiser Law” on the John Oliver Show. Notwithstanding that Oliver’s program is on Time Warner owned HBO, there is presumably little interference in the content and editorial line on the program. That said, your comment put me into mind of the possibility of “tiers” when it comes to media content. Bud and Coke are mass consumer products, the marketing for them plays on people’s fantasies and spectacle and their personal lives in these respective cases. HBO on the other hand is a higher tier, a subscription service that was, and maybe remains, a mark of status for its purchasers. There seems to be a bifurcation here, separate levels of fantasy for different levels of consumers. As for your comment on the people’s “willingness” my research indicates that at least the Palestinians did not know that they were actually going to go to the World Cup. A marketing director said: “In Palestine, the girls thought the invite was part of a script and that they had to act out the scene. We had to tell them later that they were actually going to Rio.” Imagine, they apparently spontaneously acted out a script of consumer capitalism without, again apparently, questioning what was happening. This is according to a source connected to the ad campaign so it may be less than truthful and is not from the perspective of the women depicted. I wonder, if given a voice, what they would say.
Thanks for your post, Chris. World Cup advertising is attractive to Coca-Cola and other corporate giants because of the sheer visibility of the matches; however, you’ve also made an important point that the social meanings associated with sports and community (e.g., togetherness) are something that corporate advertisers seek to have rubbed off on their brands. What strikes me about this campaign and clip are the overlapping, neoliberal narratives associated with both sports and development. Specifically, the clip emphasizes both “overcoming adversity” (football gave us the courage to go on) and “democracy/meritocracy” (everyone’s invited). What’s interesting to me is that (rather than relying on sports’ meanings, alone) these well-trodden sports narratives are being inscribed on these communities first. And, then, those sports/community narratives are inscribed on (and enabled by) Coca-Cola. The clip is a really striking illustration of the way symbolic meanings are not just mined and transferred for branding purposes, but also actively cultivated. I’d be interested in what other narratives we could unpack here…
Thanks for your interesting analysis of this video! I was very impressed by Coca-Cola’s use of K’Naan’s song “Wavin’ Flag” in the 2010 World Cup. The song became ubiquitous worldwide, in large part because Coca-Cola attempted to incorporate different languages and people. The Spanish version featured David Bisbal, the Arabic version featured Nancy Arjam, and the American version featured will.i.am and David Guetta. After these versions became hits, individuals throughout the world created bootleg versions of the song to reflect local languages (including Thai) and to support national teams (including Nigeria). I was less than thrilled with K’Naan’s final official Coca-Cola remix version, which has similar issues of representation that you outline in the above video.
Thank you for this piece and for your insight. The World Cup at its best brings players and fans together in appreciation of the sport. Viewed through sponsor-colored glasses, it becomes a vehicle for hyper-consumerism that obscures even the game itself.
I remember reading about the Budweiser sponsorship of World Cup 2014. Though alcohol is not allowed in sports stadiums in Brazil, FIFA (and Budweiser) prevailed. I shrugged it off. Reading your analysis, though, I turn back to the Budweiser ads.
While Coca-Cola transplants various people from their homes (I wonder how willingly, and what was the outcome?), the Budweiser ads replace actual “cultures” with fictional, almost surreal representations, then interrupt them with images of its product.
In one case, visibility is wrapped in and swallowed by consumerism. In the other, visibility is prevented when cartoon supplants reality. You have it right: there is probably some beneficial cultural sharing and awareness resulting from the World Cup, but seen through these lenses, it’s hard to tell.