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The World Cup: Is America Accepting Soccer or Just More Advertising?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Today is the day! USA vs. Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, where people — many of whom have never watched a football/soccer/futbol game — will walk out of the house in red, white, and blue face, head straight for the pub, and get ess-faced in celebration of a 1-0 game. Maybe.

And while this has been happening every time Team USA takes the field, marketers have been finding ways to interject their favorite clients' brands in the middle of every conversation possible. And now, without provocation, the brands are bypassing the advertising and just going World Cup crazy themselves. Is this patriotism run amok or just an attempt to shill for a few products? Check the ratings from Nielsen, because numbers don't lie. Here are some raw big-event numbers for the various major American sports during the past calendar year, with viewership tallied in millions:
Event                                                                        TV Rating
NFL Super Bowl (Feb. 2014): 112.2
NFL conference title games (Jan. 2014)  53.7
NFL wildcard playoffs (Jan. 2014)  34.7
NFL divisional playoffs (Jan. 2014) 34.3
BCS title game (Jan. 2014)  25.6
USA-Portugal World Cup (June 2014)  24.7
NCAA basketball title game (Apr. 2014)   21.2
USA-Ghana World Cup (June 2014) 15.9
NBA Finals (June 2014)  15.6
World Series (Oct. 2013) 14.9
USA-Germany World Cup (June 2014)  14.2
NHL Stanley Cup Finals (June 2014)  5.0

There it is, America. You are proving to ESPN that their billion-dollar investment was not in vain. You are watching, and why not? We all love to see #USA trend worldwide, and that's where brands have reared their heads. Shoes, cars, and booze are always players during fun-time events, but now brands are finding other ways to become well-known newsjackers. Meet Waffle House. Yes, that Waffle House. 

According to this AP story found on ABCNews.com, the diner (and beloved place for ending day-long benders) made this happen:

The Georgia-based restaurant chain took to its Twitter account Monday to proclaim, "We don't believe in Belgium waffles." Or Belgian waffles, as a follower quickly corrected. But the sentiment, a riff on American fans' 'I believe that we will win' chant," was popular a day before the U.S. faces Belgium in the World Cup.

This waffle-xenophobic stance has created a viral sensation and a serious boycott of the Belgian waffle today. The company was even quoted by TMZ, because when you want verification of a national boycott on a food item, that's who you call. The PR is instant. The fame has arrived. The stunt was genius. However, how many of those "fans" stumbling inside one of those late-night establishments will be fans when Team USA is bounced from the contest? Do those people become Benedict Arnolds then? 

I guess now is a bad time to admit my love for French Toast. Ah, well. Ole. Ole. Ole. 

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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