Connect with Greatness: SuperSport employs nostalgia for 2018 World Cup promotion

It is less than six months to the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and Sub-Saharan Africa’s television rights have been split among four major broadcasters.

While pay TV rights have been shared among StarTimes, Kwese TV and SuperSport, free-to-air (FTA) rights have been split between SABC (for South Africa only) and Kwese TV (Rest of Sub-Saharan Africa).

In a market with four sellers, each broadcaster must try to stand out from the others by offering a promise of something new, different and evocative.

Therefore, SuperSport has turned to nostalgia in its storytelling to promote its 2018 World Cup rights.

In December, the South African company began airing one-minute commercials featuring former football stars who played at the World Cup evoking their most memorable stories of the Mundial.

Former England striker Michael Owen and former Nigeria captains Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha and Sunday Oliseh have all appeared in these commercials titled, Connect with Greatness.

Oliseh, who currently coaches at Dutch Division Two side Fortuna Sittard, talked about Nigeria’s first World Cup participation in 1994 and how the players were pioneers, “the first members of our families to step foot at the World Cup”.

Oliseh said: “As a kid we used to watch the World Cup but it was not for us, it was for others”. As footage rolled showing Rashidi Yekini scoring the Super Eagles’ first goal against Bulgaria, he quipped: “That goal liberated us.”

In one of his two promo videos, Okocha talked about the highly anticipated game between Iran and the United States of America at France ’98 as real world politics made the group game a highly anticipated encounter. Then President Bill Clinton gave a televised national speech ahead of the game that was dubbed “Political Football” by the New York Times. “I have always believed that football can trump politics,” said Okocha about the game that Iran won 2-1.

In another video, Okocha remembers the feat of the Cameroonian national team, the Indomitable Lions, at Italia ’90 where they defeated defending champions Argentina in the opening game. The 10-man Lions won 1-0 and sent shocks across the world. Okocha talks about the inspiration he took from the game as he went on to play his first World Cup four years later at USA ’94.

England legend Paul Gascoigne is the subject of Owen’s video. He recalls watching him as a 10-year-old at Italia ’90 and how he cried at the end of the semi-final loss to Italy. “To see tears during a game, I was just mesmerized by how much it means to play for your country,” Owen said about the ‘normal lad’ that took his country by storm.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia starts on June 14 and will run till July 15

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