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How @Sportsbetcomau’s Controversial Social Strategy Captured the World Cup Conversation

Sportsbet logoNot many things pair as well as sports and social media.

The social web has made it possible for brand marketers, fans, and even players to interact in real time, share excitement, and – outside the States – even place a bet, all without leaving the couch. has made a name as Australia’s premier Internet betting and entertainment website, and during the FIFA World Cup, they turned heads internationally with their innovative use of social media.

The Campaign: #KeepTheFaith, a Giant Balloon…and Jesus?

“’s social media campaign started with a hashtag: #KeepTheFaith,” says Jessica Featherby, Social Media Campaign Manager for “We set out to implement a campaign that would both increase conversation about the event and incite patriotism behind the Australian team, yet play off the reality of the Socceroos’ unfortunate World Cup draw, encouragingly named The Group of Death (against Spain, Netherlands and Chile).” was focused on capitalizing on the massive conversation around the World Cup, but not at the expense of their brand image.

“It was important that this was achieved while still maintaining the irreverence and somewhat controversial edge the brand is known for,” says Featherby. “What better way to communicate this message than through the hosting city’s most recognizable icon: Cristo Redentor (or Christ the Redeemer)?” fully embraced the concept, delivering one of its biggest stunts to date, a 46m high hot air balloon portraying Christ the Redeemer wearing a football-style jersey in the Socceroos colors, and of course boasting the campaign hashtag: #KeepTheFaith.

balloonA full social media strategy was developed to determine how this stunt and the campaign hashtag would permeate online content. With the overall goal of being the most talked about brand during the FIFA World Cup, engagements, trending, and share of voice targets were put in place by the business in order to evaluate success.

The balloon was launched a few days prior to the commencement of the World Cup, flying over some of Australia’s biggest cities including Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide.

It caused quite the stir, receiving national and global media coverage and an amazing amount of social traffic, spurred by a plethora of social media content including Vines portraying top goals, a World Cup trivia app run through Twitter, competitions, and daily Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube posts. The result was a cohesive, highly successful campaign which reached social targets.

The Tactics: Facebook

Screenshot 2014-09-04 10.05.59’s contest was a hit on Facebook.

While the Jesus balloon created great brand awareness and organic conversation, there was no implicit call to action. For that, took to their social channels.

On Facebook, the post above promoted a contest to win one of six pairs of the coolest soccer cleats that I’ve ever seen (my Catholic grandma is rolling her eyes right now).

The Tactics: Twitter

jesus3 didn’t shy away from controversy.

On Twitter, took a different approach, promoting organic conversation by highlighting tournament statistics and odds (their bread and butter) and sharing in the collective hope of Socceroos fans across Australia.

They also embraced the controversy, encouraging dissenters in a playful way. A bold move as a brand, but one that seems to have paid off.

The Measurement Solution: Simply Measured

“We used the Simply Measured Stream Snapshot Report to analyze the hashtag, and added the inclusion of Sportsbet or Sportsbetcomau to the Boolean,” says Featherby. “This was a deliberate decision to filter out irrelevant mentions. This meant there was, of course, leakage that the query did not pick up — however, over 3,000 unique mentions were still recorded.”

The ability to measure success and track results is integral to any campaign of this capacity. #KeeptheFaith was no exception.

Simply Measured proved to be an invaluable tool in achieving this level of success. used three main reports to track the brand’s share of voice, trending of #KeepTheFaith, and engagements on our social media content.   –   Featherby takes a measurement-first approach to social media marketing, spanning their entire social landscape. To learn how you can do the same, download our guide, 5 Essentials of Cross-Channel Social Media Measurement.
Screenshot 2014-09-02 16.19.28

Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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