SBS Kicks Multicultural Marketing Goals

World Cup football - Soccer ball with flags of different countries

Ahead of the 2014 Australian Multicultural Marketing Awards, B&T spoke to Helen Kellie, the chief content officer at SBS about the channel’s award nomination for its broadcast of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

“Nominations are always something that makes us feel very proud, we’re very lucky to have been nominated – and it’s something that’s really close to our heart, because it combines SBS’s two passions; our passion for cultural diversity in Australia and the passion for the world game of football,” said Kellie.

The marketing campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, in its entirety, was 12 months in the making. It was called ‘Brazil is Coming’ and it was translated into 24 languages. The World Cup match commentary was broadcast in 15 languages. “It was more than any other broadcaster globally, and more than any other in the history of the World Cup,” said Kellie.

“We moved on from marketing the campaign to tuning into specific match messages – on those we had a common look/feel across all platforms, but we did some localisation using national colours to insulate the individual matches, those were also done in different languages. We translated the marketing into the languages of the competing countries in the matches.”

The FIFA World Cup just so happens to be at the centre of SBS’s over arching marketing strategy, and with its multicultural audience in mind, the network was able to leverage this diversity to market the international sport of football to an array of people. “A key part of the multicultural strategy for the marketing campaign saw us engaging heavily with communities whose country of origin were competing in the World Cup,” explained Kellie.

SBS attended major live site events and venues across Sydney and Melbourne in locations known to be gathering points for these communities. Examples include: Sydney’s Enmore Theatre for Greek matches; Wollongong’s The Fraternity Club for an Italian match and Melbourne’s The Hofbräuhaus for German matches. In total SBS attended 41 events for eight different language communities.


With roughly 1,200 staff, Kellie admits every team across SBS was touched by and involved in The World Cup coverage and spirit in one way or another. This synergy assisted in the success of the campaign and match coverage.

“This year, it was a real multi-platform event and the fact that we held all platforms exclusively was of real value to us and in a way, we didn’t mind which way audiences would engage; we were happy if they were streaming it, watching it on TV live, or listening to it on the radio live. What we wanted to do was give our audience as many different ways to consume it as possible.”

SBS measured engagement across all of the platforms it used for broadcasting the World Cup including standard TV ratings; Neilsen and OzTam, stream requests through the World Cup website and apps and analytics.

“We’re working through the information we’ve gathered about how much people used radio, TV and online to interact with the 2014 World Cup and we’ll us this to help us for the next one. We’re already thinking about the 2018 World Cup,” explained Kellie.

“I think our combination of TV, radio and online allowed us to give audiences that unique offer, which was at the heart of our multicultural campaign.”

As for how they prepare for the next World Cup, only time will tell. Kellie said: “Closer to the time we need to figure out what our audiences look like in 2018 and what our consumption patterns are. Some of the things we saw in 2014 that we expect will only accelerate is consumers viewing content on their own terms. One of the things we saw was mobile consumption; people tuning in via mobile on their way to work. With the increase in mobile use we realised it was going to be big, but I it was bigger than we thought.”

Kellie shared an interesting insight she discovered during the broadcasting of the world’s biggest sporting event. She said: “Second generation emigrants were re-connecting with their heritage. The Soccerroos were their first team, but they then cheered on a second team depending on where they and their family have come from.”


Capitalising on this insight, SBS amplified it on social media by creating community specific events and competitions on Facebook for example.”Lots of things in the social media space allowed people to engage not only with football, but with people from their cultural community,” said Kellie.

Kellie explained the importance of retaining some of the audience who tuned in for the World Cup once it wrapped, which was also a component of SBS’s overall strategy. “We made sure we had content coming out of the World Cup, we launched big content pieces on the back of it all,” said Kellie.

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