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Goal! Goal! Goal!: How brands can score (big) at the FIFA World Cup

As live sports events resume, advertisers are looking to reconnect with fans leveraging big scale tournaments. With increased enthusiasm and a loyal set of football fans, brands are chalking out plans as football viewership continues to increase.

By  Saumya TewariOct 14, 2022 10:09 AM
Goal! Goal! Goal!: How brands can score (big) at the FIFA World Cup
Advertisers look to tap FIFA World Cup 2022 buzz in India. (Representational image via Unsplash)

With little over a month to go for FIFA World Cup 2022 to kick off in Qatar on 18 November, brands across categories are finding ways to tap into the football frenzy. As live sports events resume, advertisers are looking to rebuild and reconnect with fans leveraging big scale tournaments. With increased enthusiasm and a loyal set of football fans, brands are chalking out plans as football viewership continues to increase year-on-year.

To be sure, the 64 live matches of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia were watched by 110.5 million viewers across India on the Sony Pictures Networks India (Broadcast Audience Research Council of India data for all India, viewers above two years of age viewing the tournament on the SPN Sports Network + terrestrial network/Doordarshan).

The total cumulative reach for the FIFA World Cup 2018 on the network was 254 million viewers (BARC, all India, viewers above two years old). This includes live matches, wraparound shows, highlights, repeats, surround programming of FIFA World Cup, SPN Sports Network, terrestrial network, Sony LIV).

Based on the previous edition’s viewership and year-on-year growth in football audience, FIFA organisers believe that India is likely to cross 300 million views for the 2022 edition.

Reliance Industries-backed Viacom18 Media bagging streaming FIFA World Cup tournament matches in multiple regional languages on its Jio Cinema app for free will further add to the sports fan’s frenzy. It will also provide viewers exclusive experiences on JioCinema.

Shekhar Banerjee, chief client officer & office head - West, Wavemaker India tells Storyboard18 that FIFA World Cup aggregates all different football club fans, there’s huge influx of casual watchers and lot of dormant football viewers also become active and catch the games which creates a massive spike in viewership.

“In India, FIFA is a phenomenon of three states and three metros. Goa, West Bengal, Kerala dominate the football viewership and North East is slowly coming up. Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore contribute significantly to football viewership as well,” he notes.

These are significant markets for a large variety of brands where they are looking to connect with invested sports fans. Usually, FIFA World Cup related promotions can range from a commercial, digital/social media activation to innovative and engaging fan engagement activities.

Brand promotions

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, for instance, has partnered with Viacom18 Sports network on a global stage as a co-presenting broadcast sponsor for many popular international football leagues that they will present through 2022-23 season, such as LaLiga, Serie A and Ligue 1.

“Similar to how football motivates over a billion followers across the globe, we at Mahindra hope to inspire the love of driving SUVs in every automotive enthusiast. The sport is widely followed by people living in metro and Tier I cities in India and our core target group for our authentic range of SUVs also reside in these markets. Therefore, we strongly believe this partnership will help drive impact and top of mind recall amongst our core target audience,” says Veejay Nakra, president - automotive division, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.

FIFA is also known for its long standing brand partnerships with Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa.

Budweiser, American pale lager and part of AB InBev, has been associated with FIFA for over 35 years. Tapping into the growing love of football in India, Budweiser says that it continues to engage with consumers in distinct ways.

“About 100 days before the World Cup, we launched the first phase of our campaign with a tech-integrated “DROP” of QR codes across five cities in the world- Mumbai being part of the mix. Indian footballers joined the conversation and took social media by storm, urging their followers to scan the QR code for a chance to witness the World Cup in-person, in Doha,” says Vineet Sharma, VP – marketing, South Asia, AB InBev.

Challenges for Indian marketers

While marketing and promotions get activated closer to the FIFA tournament, advertising executives believe that marketers in India have not been able to tap into the full potential of the global event.

Wavemaker’s Banerjee notes that marketers in India are tuned to cricket which is perfectly designed for advertising as every four minutes there is a commercial break, which is not the model for football because the break is long and comes after 45 minutes and the viewership dips massively.

“In such a case brands need to work much harder. They need to build long term associations. They need to work on licensing, create consumer engagement programmes and they have to start planning this at least a year back because you engage with FIFA as a board and it takes a lot of time. So much more complex ecosystem to navigate and therefore while you will see some associations happening somewhere, logos will appear but the bulk of them will be global associations doing an India extension of it,” he concludes.

First Published on Oct 13, 2022 3:47 PM