This summer we have been pinned to our seats in anticipation, with England making it as far as the semi-finals in Russia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Billions of fans have watched the tournament with bated breath, to see whether their national heroes could bring home the legendary title. With football being the most popular sport in the world, sponsorship offers the biggest chance for brands to reach and influence a global population, but some people might debate that the cost of this outweighs the benefits.
Meet the players
There are seven official partners for FIFA, but if you were being honest, how many of those could you actually name?
Well, just in case you couldn’t recall, they’re Coca Cola, Adidas, Gazprom, Qatar Airways, Visa, Hyundai/Kia and the Wanda Group. Each of these pay around $1.25 billion dollars. A hefty price tag for official association. And then, to add a little bit more confusion, there is also a secondary tier of FIFA World Cup sponsors, as well as Regional Supporters.
2018 sponsorship has been a much harder sell for FIFA; following their corruption scandals, Johnson & Johnson and other long term sponsors such as Castrol and Continental ended their association. According to Nielsen Sports’ research, their revenue fell from $1,629m (£1,214m) for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, to an estimated $1,450m (£1,085m) this year.
This interestingly has opened up opportunities for Chinese and Asian companies to market through sponsorship to global markets, and as a result we’re seeing more diverse brands, relatively unknown to the Western market, being promoted.
The ultimate global platform
But the bottom line is that $1.25 billion is the kind of sponsorship budget most companies can only dream of. Sponsorship of football is a status symbol for a brand – the holy grail. Would that kind of money produce more measurable, attributable results being spent on advertising, or digital? Very probably. But being involved in one of the greatest and unique sporting events in the world, when you have access to that kind of budget, would be difficult to resist.
GlobalWebIndex have conducted a survey of over 80,000 people and estimate that 47% of the global online population will watch the World Cup either online or on TV. In Latin America that figure climbs to 65% (but is only 23% in North America). The appeal of the tournament also extends past normal football fans. Wives, children and those who wouldn’t normally watch national league matches, get caught up in the patriotism and excitement. For example, in Europe just 25% of the online population watch the Premier League, but this will rise to 47% for the World Cup.
So what can’t be debated is that regardless of the huge costs involved, FIFA sponsorship – offering access to 3.5 billion passionate people in over 200 countries watching at home – is the ultimate way to showcase your brand on a world stage.
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