In 2015, the NSW, Queensland, ACT and Victorian governments hosted the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in Australia. It was the first time that Australia had hosted a major Asian sporting event and $70 million was invested across all governments.
Our challenge was to engage Asian communities to attend the tournament – 26 of 32 games did not involve the Socceroos and would rely on the Asian diaspora communities for the tournament to be a success. We were to drive Asian fan engagement and attendances with a tournament attendance target of 350,000 fans.
We needed to build awareness of the tournament and to connect the communities with their ancestral national teams and players.
We executed a three-phased integrated marketing campaign based on research and insights, awareness through segmented marketing and community engagement leading to ticket sales.
The campaign engaged 15 Asian communities including Chinese, South Korean, Japanese, Iraqi and Iranian. The campaign included influencers, media, content marketing, community events, channel partner marketing and strategic partnerships.
The event was a resounding success with over 650,000 attendees across the 32 matches and achieved an AFC record for a ‘non-home’ match when over 36,000 fans attended the semi-final between Iraq and South Korea.
Twenty-million dollars in surplus revenue was returned to various governments with a significant amount invested back into grassroots football including the $4 million NSW Government Asian Cup 2015 Legacy Fund.
The event was hailed as “the most successful Asian Cup” by Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, President of the Asian Football Confederation.