Blog: Andy MortonHow to beat FIFA at the World Cup ad game

Andy Morton | 28 May 2014

The start of the FIFA World Cup is just two weeks away, and excitement is growing, not least at The Coca-Cola Co and Anheuser-Busch InBev, the event's two drinks sponsors.

In the past few months, the companies have released a spate of World Cup-themed promotions and ads as they make the most of a partnership with the biggest sports event on the planet, after the Olympics.

Just how much the companies pay for the right to use World Cup imagery and plaster their ads across the host stadiums is a closely-guarded secret. But it is enough to ensure almost total militancy from FIFA when it comes to non-partner brands attempting to siphon off a share of the World Cup spotlight without financial recompense.

This was found out to Dutch brewer Bavaria's cost at the last tournament in South Africa in 2010, when it organised a group of women in orange mini-dresses to attend the Netherlands v Denmark game. In FIFA's eyes, this contravened the exclusivity of A-B InBev brand Budweiser, and the global footballing body pressed charges, which even triggered a dawn raid from South African police.

It's perhaps with this in mind that non-partnered companies are very careful not to mention the World Cup in any of their marketing, even when its blatantly obvious that's what the product is focussed on. Take, for example, Remy Cointreau's launch yesterday of a Brazilian-themed Passoa liqueur bottle. “As you know, 2014 is a very special year for Brazil,” the artist behind the new design was quoted as saying, allowing the reader to make the implicit connection while most definitely not mentioning FIFA or World Cups. 

A Carlsberg ad unveiled this month also managed to attach its wagon to this summer's football jamboree through a generic appreciation of watching the match in a pub.

When I saw the ad I wondered if that was too close for FIFA, given their past sensitivity. But as far as I'm aware, Carlsberg HQ has not been the subject of any dawn raids recently, so I guess they got away with it.






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