Brands invested big when it comes to sponsorship of the World Cup. There’s no event more widely watched than football’s premier tournament and FIFA are predicted to have generated around €1.3 billion in revenue this summer.
FIFA claims it will attract 3.2bn viewers during the competition, but a €100m-a-year partnership fee is too expensive for many brands to go down the official sponsor route. Instead, some sponsored a nation, took on a media partner or adopted a stealthier approach and ambushed the tournament.
Here are some of the brands that caught our eye over the past four weeks with clever executions.
Despite Russia’s 2013 law banning ‘gay propaganda’, LGBT activists still flew the iconic Pride flag by wearing rainbow colours around Moscow during the World Cup. A group of six risked arrest by walking around wearing football team shirts of Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia to subtly display the colours of the stripes of the Pride flag.
Adidas recruited a star-studded cast of sporting figures and musicians for its “Create the Answer” ad campaign. You might expect Adidas to deliver something special for the World Cup and they didn’t disappoint. The World Cup might be arguably the world’s greatest stage for sporting rivalries, but in troubled times it seems the Three Stripes is suggesting this ought to be a time of creativity, togetherness, and team spirit. With over 50 celebrities featured, it’s a who’s who of the sporting world.
The National Centre for Domestic Violence
The National Centre for Domestic Violence created a powerful poster campaign highlighting the link between football matches and incidences of domestic violence. The work comes from insight that reports of domestic violence increases by 26% when England play and 38% when England lose.
UberEats elected to run a similar global campaign. It leaned on playmaker Pirlo who was distraught at the absence of Italy. In response he picked a new national team to support. The work outlines the UberEats McDonald’s delivery service and saw the Italian try to cheer on a few sides at the tournament.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power makes it its business to stand out at any sporting event, and this year it excelled. Prior to the World Cup they released a statement “For every goal the Russian lads score, Paddy’s going to pull £10,000 out of his deep pockets to fund causes dedicated to making football more LGBT+ inclusive”. With Russia scoring 11 goals over the four weeks, Paddy Power paid out a hefty £110,000. Fair play guys.
Paddy Power also launched a digital-only World Cup show, Paddy’s Boat Party, which broadcasted weekly throughout the tournament. Fronted by former Soccer AM host Max Rushden and Paddy Power himself, it broadcasted from a luxury yacht on the Thames in Central London and featured guests such as Sven-Goran Eriksson, Harry Redknapp and Geoff Hurst.
Players from around the world were seen wearing Apple’s AirPods wireless earbuds, and Beats headphones (which Apple also owns) before matches, disembarking planes, or even returning to their home countries in defeat. FIFA has pretty strict rules around what it calls “ambush marketing,” where a brand pays players to wear or use its products before or during World Cup games, even though that company has not paid to be an official World Cup sponsor. Apple encouraged players using their products to cover the branding, creating more of a buzz and intrigue to the product.