Talking to Ads
Social Media Teams Anticipate U.S. Loss,
Seize the Moment
By Pete Tothero
Within moments of the U.S. Men's Soccer Team's loss to Belgium yesterday, then, Twitter users had an opportunity to watch their screen fill with the cleverness social media marketers had been waiting to unleash. What follows is just bits of flotsam I noticed in the flood.
The first loss-pegged post in my stream was from The Awl, a website that runs longform essays and describes their focus as anything newsworthy, but that "we return most frequently to New York City and its self-centered, all-consuming industries: media and publishing, finance and real estate, politics and capitalism and gamesmanship." They tweeted:
America Got What It Deserved http://t.co/Sh3dsypS8q— The Awl (@Awl) July 1, 2014
Was The Awl really kicking the U.S. soccer team when it was down? The link is to a page filled with nothing but tweets from corporate entities wishing the U.S. soccer team well. The implication (I guess) is that corporate entities attach themselves to big sports events and use them for publicity and this is gross. Totally. How this means that America "got what it deserved" is a bit hazy to me. I guess I just don't recall the passage from Habermas in which he discusses how the evils of capitalism shall be corrected via World Cup outcomes. Or wait, am I misreading this? Did we get an inspiring effort from a likeable group of guys, and does America deserve inspiration and likability? No, that can't be it. It has to be the Habermas thing. I'll Google "Habermas on soccer" later.
The team at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art threw us a true curveball—or I suppose it would be kicked us a...bent pass?
I'm just going to admit I don't know what famous painting, sculpture, or Gus Van Sant movie those two models are recreating, and I'm not going to look it up, because I am gainfully employed elsewhere and I'm not even supposed to be taking time to write this dumb article. I do know those dudes are wearing the jerseys of the Italian team, though, and that Italy wasn't the team that just lost. Was the U.S. team somehow like the Italian team? Is this some kind of a soccer joke artists get immediately? Was there a famous Italian artist who was also a soccer player who had some paintings stolen by Belgians? Is it an obscure Vespucci reference? I think there are two possibilities: I'll never know because I'm not smart enough, or—and I hesitate to suggest this—is it possible this is just a random and weird thing an artsy person did that doesn't really make sense?
Sorry! I'm saying I don't know!
Let's move on to the responses from some entities who practice serious journalism. From Slate:
This is far from the first time Slate tweeted this item, and I realize it may have been pre-scheduled and that it was just a coincidence that it appeared moments after the conclusion of the match. (I also suspect it wasn't a coincidence.) But why would you pre-schedule this tweet to appear during the post-match hours? Had discussion of the sex lives of Harry Potter characters petered out to the point that writers also had time to dig into the theoretical jerkiness of a soccer coach? Watch out, 60 Minutes. Someone's coming for your throne.
If you're looking for an entity to get it right on sports, though, you can't do better than ESPN, can you? And they didn't let us down:
Despite the loss, Tim Howard’s record setting performance was monumental. pic.twitter.com/eaqF2Whkxq— ESPN (@espn) July 1, 2014
So at some point during the second half of the match a producer at ESPN barked, "I need a graphic of Tim Howard's head on Mt. Rushmore, and I need it now!" And then some poor designer started PhotoShopping for her life. I bet her first question was, "In place of which President?" and that the producer said, "Are you stupid? ALL FOUR HEADS TIM HOWARD HEADS! ALL FOUR HEADS TIM HOWARD HEADS!"
Let's bring the room down now, though, with the more professional social media response we can count on from our friends in radio, which some people consider the social media of the nineteenth century. It's four o'clock in the WNYC newsroom—let's turn for a moment to the world of soccer, and:
Listen to Team USA Lose its Chance at the World Cup http://t.co/AjD3mJKasz— WNYC (@WNYC) July 1, 2014
So there were only seven people at that match? I heard Brazil was having a hard time getting ready to host, but I had no idea they had walked away from a stadium leaving only seven seats for spectators.
The clip really captures it, doesn't it? There's nothing that brings to mind losing a chance at the World Cup quite like an audio recording of a man trying to light his gas grill at a barbecue party before realizing the propane tank is empty. Radio is magic.
Back to work, everyone. No games today.
Pete Tothero is the magazine’s Sports Editor.