Delving into Detail with World Cup Sponsorship Spend – Rebecca Hopkins

By iSportconnect | June 20, 2014

The World Cup is well underway and there has been as much attention focussed off the pitch as there has been on it. Already dubbed the greatest tournament ever it’s unsurprising that brands, both big and small, flock to FIFA, each looking to leverage a slice of the popularity pie. With partners and sponsors signed up and unassociated brands looking to steal some of the spotlight, this week saw forecasters predicting the evolution of brand sponsorship spend.

The competition’s status as the biggest Twitter event in history has already been drummed into us more times than Spain’s goal net has bulged, but the World Cup’s sociability and how brands leverage this goes far beyond simple generalizations. Some quarters are suggesting that sponsors are going to have to increase their expenditure markedly, in order to generate a return on their rights investment – good news for sports marketing agencies. The basis for this are comments by FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke, who has stated the governing body will earn £2.3 billion in tournament revenue – a figure that is set to increase for 2018 and marks a 10% rise on 2010. Included within that is £837 million of income which will come from FIFA’s sponsorship deals. On the basis that rights purchasing investments are at least equalled by leverage budgets, forecasters suggest that future World Cup partners will need to find deep pockets to stay invested. With media possibilities moving at an unprecedented pace, digital marketing looks set to emerge as the platform of choice. Conversely, some analysts believe that this medium is becoming overcrowded and unwieldy, creating the genuine threat of consumer fatigue – an issue that is also present for the current tournament. The key caveat for these comments is that they are all focussed on expenditure, making no allowance for exciting creativity to outperform commercial dollars.

Whilst much of the discussion around brand marketing which leverages the World Cup has focussed on social and digital execution, research from the UK reveals that companies are shunning traditional media at their peril. Looking specifically at out of home, advertisers who integrate poster or billboard execution with mobile engagement, will lift their returns. In a two-week trial in the UK earlier this year, researchers measured awareness, purchase consideration and online searches across 120,000 usage hotspots, using 370 selected mobile websites and apps, as well as 19,000 poster locations. The results showed a 200% increase in “unprompted ad awareness” and a 150% increase in online searches. With figures like this, major brands should look to move increasingly to integration rather than siloed execution.

It all makes for provocative reading and is something both brands and sports PR agencies should note when planning future campaigns.

Watch Rebecca Hopkins analyse the week’s big marketing stories in the Sports Marketing Show on iSportconnect TV


Rebecca Hopkins is Managing Director of ENS Ltd, a London-based sports agency tasked with promoting and protecting brands in sport. They specialize in sports PR, crisis management and online public relations.

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