Every four years the FIFA World Cup arrives to global fanfare, the obvious reaction to the biggest possible event for the world’s most popular sport. That global audience is a veritable goldmine for corporations around the world, and especially so for the tournament’s official sponsors.
FIFA’s major partners, which reportedly pay some $25-50 million per year, are Adidas , Coca-Cola , Emirates, Hyundai Motor Group, Sony and Visa V -0.46%. Added to that are FIFA’s World Cup sponsors, a group that includes global brands like Budweiser, Castrol, Continental, Johnson & Johnson and McDonald’s, plus European organic food producer Moy Park, Brazilian telecom company Oi and Yingli Solar, the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer. Those second-tier sponsors pay in the range of $10-25 million per year.
That’s not an easy club to be a part of. In 2013, FIFA generated $404 million from marketing rights associated with this year’s World Cup, which comprised 29% of its annual revenue.
These companies are featured on FIFA’s website and in their World Cup promotional materials. They will also have signage at matches and air commercials during World Cup coverage. The memorable TV ads will not only run throughout the duration of the tournament, but they’ll also live a much longer life on the internet. Companies are spending big for the exposure, with one report suggesting that ad spending is up over 40% from 2010.
FIFA sponsor Adidas first unveiled “The Dream,” a thrilling spot featuring Lionel Messi, Louis Suarez and a brand new Kanye West song. Then a week later the German apparel company released “House Match,” a much funnier ad with legends Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham playing against Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura. Fellow sponsor McDonald’s took a series of trick shots, which are all the rage online, and turned the highlight reel into an exciting ad – without the use of a celebrity endorser:
Even companies that aren’t officially sponsors can pick up traction off the games with TV ads. One example is Nike’s “The Last Game,” an animated short that stars the company’s highest-profile athlete endorsers in a battle to save soccer in a dystopian future:
Other non-sponsor commercials that have been popular online include Cup of Noodles’ soccer samurai and Beats by Dre’s “The Game Before The Game” spot. But while non-sponsors are free to air soccer-themed commercials, they still can’t get the same brand activation that official sponsors pay for.
Take Budweiser as an example. The Anheuser-Busch InBev beer brand not only rolled out a new commercial for the World Cup, but it’s also opened the Budweiser Hotel on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach. The fan destination will host both former Brazilian soccer players and EDM artists like Nicky Romero and Major Lazer, who will perform on the hotel’s roof.
Another sponsor going all-out is British motor oil company Castrol. The company has unveiled what it calls the Castrol Index, which uses player-tracking technology to rate player performance. Castrol has also partnered with Brazilian soccer legend Cafu for star power, and it’s held a contest that will send one lucky fan to follow the US Men’s National Team and share highlights of the experience on social media.
Similar attempts at fan engagement are being made by the other official partners, and why not? The billion-dollar business of the World Cup is booming, and the tournament’s official sponsors have invested millions to ride the wave.