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Who REALLY WON & who REALLY LOST the 2018 FIFA World Cup RUSSIA!

Written by Matteo Rinaldi and Luca Bertocci

The FIFA World Cup is certainly one of the most valuable sporting events, able to attract and involve billions of people. Although the global viewing figure for this year’s deciding match (where France managed to outplay Croatia for 4 goals vs. 2) has yet to be officially determined, according to Kantar Media’s estimations the final number will be slightly above 900 million viewers worldwide. An astonishing amount, especially if compared to the global audience of another event, the Super Bowl (whose audience is estimated around 150 million).


If we consider the event as a whole stats are even better, with a total audience of 3.4 billion, 46% of the entire world population!


The oldest market rule ever: Supply vs. Demand


We do not need to be a statistician to understand that every brand in the world looks at the World Cup as a gold mine to be exploited: its potential commercial value if leveraged well could be unimaginable.


The issue is that, like in every market where demand is bigger than supply, prices rise. Any brand which wanted to become an official World Cup sponsor had to pay at least € 100 million, an impressive investment in terms of advertisement for any brand. A company that fully believed in it was the Chinese smartphones maker Vivo, which signed a 5 years deal with FIFA (from 2018 till 2022 included, ensuring a presence also in Qatar) for € 400 million!


Another brand that went “All-In” during the World Cup is Adidas, which, not happy about becoming “just” one of the official sponsors, decided to exponentially grow its investment by sponsoring as well 12 of the National Teams present (to have a comparison, the archrival Nike sponsored 10 other teams, but did not invest to become one of the major official sponsors). 


High investment doesn’t mean high return


However, those who spend the most are not always the ones who obtain the best results. Indeed, often happens that high investments in sponsorships do not turn into the high profits companies hoped for. The two most common reasons are the following: 


- Delivering an unfocused message (trying to reach everybody instead of focusing on a specific target)

- Lack of a call to action (appearing for the sake of building brand awareness, but not providing any reason to actually purchase the brand)


Who REALLY LOST the 2018 FIFA World Cup RUSSIA?


You cannot play a World Cup without the adequate preparation, both if you are one of the national teams qualified or if you are a brand aiming to profit from the occasion. It should be simple to understand and expected by everyone.


However, some brands did really a poor job and ended up damaging their brand equity instead of exploiting the opportunity.


3rd place: MasterCard – The Insensitive

Driven by the willingness to counter the official sponsorship of VISA and irk them, the company ended up with an execution, to say the least, a bit “clumsy”.


The idea was simple: for every goal scored by superstars Neymar or Messi, Mastercard would donate 10,000 meals to the World Food Programme.


However, trying to gamify such a delicate topic like starvation was not a brilliant idea and the social media, with their usual unforgivable immediacy, did not wait not even one minute to punish the brand with nasty comments all over the web.


2nd place: Lufthansa – The Inattentive

The superficiality and lack of preparation in the German airline’s promo for the World Cup were evident. In their TV commercial they portrayed two enthusiastic fans trying to make the most of their time in Moscow. One "little" detail: the clip was filmed in front of one of the most recognizable landmarks of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine (not exactly in the best relationship with the Russian neighbors at current times).


1st place: Burger King – The Offensive

Burger King, in a daring effort to stand out among all other brands and increase the football genes in Russia, went way too far in the execution. The company offered a monetary reward and a lifetime supply of Whoopers to every woman that would get impregnated by a professional footballer during the World Cup. 


At the end they really managed to stand out – just in the most negative way possible. Fortunately, they realized their mistake and offered public excuses shortly after.


Like in every sport, if there is a loser there is also a winner: 


Who REALLY WON the 2018 FIFA World Cup RUSSIA?


3rd place: Apple and the Airpods

Despite not being an official sponsor of FIFA World Cup 2018, one of the brands that benefited the most from the visibility offered by this event is Apple.


Throughout the competition, players have been surrounded by journalists, photographers, and video makers. Pictures and videos of the football teams have been seen by billions of people all over the world. Aware of this, FIFA established pretty strict rules to prevent what is called “ambush marketing”, when a brand pays players to wear or use its products before or during World Cup games. For this reason, you may have noticed big strips covering the logo of the Beats headphones used by many players during the competition. Was this enough to stop advertising brands “for free” by using one of the biggest events in the world as a platform?


Of Course not. Especially if you are Apple and the design of your products is so stylish and unique that you could recognize it from very far away.


Indeed, browsing through pictures, videos and Instagram stories coming from the World Cup, you don’t need a keen eye to recognize that the headphones that the players (like Neymar) are wearing are the Apple AirPods: before matches, disembarking planes, leaving the stadiums and also while returning home after the competition. Airpods are one of the very few Apple products that do not have the printed logo, so the players could wear them freely creating a huge hype around this product in all continents.


Very well played, Apple. 


2nd place: IKEA and Its Inclusiveness

In perfect IKEA style, the Swedish company did not want to leave anyone out during the World Cup and tweaked its offer according to the individual taste of customers.


Do you like football? Awesome! Don't you? Problem solved with the IKEA modular sofa. 


What is important is staying all together, independently by the fact of being a football fan or not, or supporting a team instead of another (well, in that case maybe not exactly “together”... a little precautionary space is welcomed) :)


1st Place: NIKE – The ultimate Champion

Even though France was considered the ultimate winner of the FIFA World Cup 2018, Nike was the one that lifted the Marketing trophy.


1. Right after the match between France and Croatia, Nike celebrated the France second-ever World Cup victory by adding the second star to the team’s shirt and introducing a limited number of these shirts on their website and stores in Paris and Moscow.


2. The brand showed its success during the final of World Cup, where both teams were wearing Nike products, even if Nike was not an official sponsor of the tournament.


3. The individual success of Nike players in the World Cup, also affected the brand positively:

  • “Golden Boot award” for most scored goals by England’s Harry Kane

  • “Golden Ball” for best player by Croatia’s Luka Modric

  • 2018’s Golden Glove” by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

  • The final goal that helped France to secure its victory by Kylian Mbappe – a France’s 19-year-old star who Nike had been featuring in commercial campaigns before the World Cup

4. During the competition 100 goals were scored by players wearing Nike shoes (the Mercurial 360 was the shoe model scoring the most, a total of 66 goals). 


In conclusion, Nike literally owned the scene of the tournament and is the REAL Winner of 2018 FIFA World Cup RUSSIA.

#HumanCentricMarketing #WorldCupRussia #Brands #Winner

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