Eurovision sparks political debate on socials
Alex Grout, Associate Director at We Are Social, explores the social activity around Eurovision and the best ways for brands to get involved.
On 13th May was the Eurovision Song Contest, the unique international television phenomenon that for years has been a hub for diversity and inclusion spanning not just Europe, but the globe:
Eurovision 2023 in numbers:
- Generated 3.4M social mentions globally (+14% vs 2022 Turin) and (+221% vs 2021 Rotterdam)
- Average TV viewership in the UK of 9.9M (+1.1M vs 2022)
- 139.2K TikTok videos generating 4.7B views (+1.7B vs 2022)
- 10% social mentions Loreen vs Kaarija debate
Cards on the table – I’ve never been a huge fan of the event, so when a friend asked the pub owner to switch it on I did roll my eyes, but when you see it on the TV, you do understand its pull factors for the millions that tune in every year. It’s not just a music event, it’s an entertainment extravaganza full of different surprise elements, from extravagant costumes to comedic hosts.
Delivering into audience data and social media activity, we found that it’s not just the songs people are interested in. In a survey, one of the most liked aspects of Eurovision was the commentary with 37% interest, compared to the songs themselves with 35% (Statista) – i.e. commentators talking about costumes and giving their perspective on songs and performances served as more interesting than the songs themselves.
Across TikTok, we saw creators sharing opinions of their favourite acts, impersonating and dressing up as them and their pets…What was clear was that there was only one winner for many – Kaarija of Finland.
WINNER SPARKS OUTRAGE
On Twitter, fans used video snippets of Big Brother to show how upset they were over the decision, while a sub reddit of 147K Eurovision mad fans had a thread created named the Debate Megathread (Brandwatch). The controversy brought communities to exchange their thoughts, with the major talking point being whether Loreen’s win was warranted or fixed. Many communities felt that Loreen’s win was fixed to allow Sweden to host for the infamous 50 year anniversary of ABBA’s performance on the show.
Beyond the traditional tribalism and discussion of the worthy winner, there was another dominant narrative playing out on social media – the Guardian’s Zoe Williams labelled it ‘A Political Statement’, alongside other terms such as ‘A 4 ½ Anti-War Protest’, with the BBC’s coverage giving frequent reference to Ukraine. Across social, we saw MP’s such as George Galloway questioning why Israel was in it and Russia wasn’t. There was so much political conversation that someone spotted that Penny Mordaunt’s Battle Dress worn at the King’s Coronation was similar to Norway’s TikTok creator rooted performer Allesandra. A Tribes Research survey found that what people disliked the most about the Eurovision Song Contest, was that ‘it’s too political’, with 60% voting for this option.
The Eurovision Song Contest increased global reach and year-on-year growth is evident, and it’s hard for brands to resist using it as a vehicle to attract new audiences, however there are some key considerations to take into mind.
A sense of community and shared appreciation can be a wonderful thing to behold, but politics creeps into the contest from all directions. The public can become embroiled within the politicisation of the competitors but brands must stay clear of this to avoid changing public perception.
Being reactive is key on platforms such as TikTok and Twitter – however it can get you in a twist if you congratulate a winner like Loreen, who people felt had won for political reasons. A quick analysis of people’s perceptions before sharing this would be recommended to ensure tides do not turn against you as a brand. Ongoing social listening of the event is a way of doing this, and is something we strongly recommend for tentpole events if you wish to activate around them.
Brands that hit the spot for Eurovision included Tesco, who’s ‘Cheesiest Night of Year’ TikTok rings in my ear to this day, played on the fun and engaging qualities of the creative, building on the corny and garish perceptions people have of the Eurovision Song Contest. This helped build excitement for all in the build up to the event, instead of risking playing on the opinions of keen fans of Eurovision on the night.