Why some Western companies are distancing themselves from the World Cup brand

  • Written by Andrew Hughes, Lecturer, Research School of Management, Australian National University

This article is the third in a five-part World Cup series exploring the politics, economics, science and social issues behind the world’s most popular sports event.

The World Cup is undoubtedly one of the world’s most-watched sporting events, only comparable to the Olympics in terms of global audience. And yet, with the tournament kicking off today in Russia, this year’s World Cup has so far felt somewhat subdued from a marketing and advertising standpoint.

Though the big brands like Nike, Adidas and Visa have all launched their World Cup ads, there have been just a few viral campaigns on social media so far. And on the guerrilla marketing front in Australia, there’s only been a clever Caltex campaign following the inclusion of veteran Tim Cahill in the Socceroos team.

This low commercial visibility is backed up by FIFA’s own facts: whilst the two top tiers of sponsorships for the 2018 World Cup were nearly all filled, the third tier (regional partnerships) still has openings that are likely to remain unsold. Only in mid-June did FIFA secure it’s first African third-tier sponsor.

Read more: Is Russia worthy of hosting the World Cup?

Altogether, just 20 of the 34 commercial spots for the World Cup have been sold. This will undoubtedly cost FIFA hundreds of million of dollars in lost revenue, which is bad news for President Gianni Infantino, who promised member states that revenues would increase during his term.

So, why isn’t this World Cup seeing a commercial bonanza similar to years past, such as Nike’s famous Joga Bonito and Join the Chain campaign at the 2006 Germany World Cup?

The reason is simple: brand transference. This marketing theory dictates that a consumer’s knowledge or feeling around a brand – be it a place, person or product – will transfer to the brand it’s linked with in an advertisement or marketing campaign.

In this case, it’s the connection with tainted “brands” like Russia and FIFA that has some Western companies cautious ahead of the World Cup.

However, these associations haven’t proved a problem for brands from other parts of the world, such as Chinese companies Dalian Wanda, Hisense, Vivo and Mengniu Dairy, Qatar Airways, and Russia’s Gazprom, who have happily stepped in to fill the void.

Brand Russia

Russia is not an unknown quantity. Brands know the problematic transference issues involved with any connection to Russia, from Moscow’s meddling in foreign elections and the Syrian civil war to the state-sponsored doping system that saw Russian athletes banned from the 2016 and 2018 Olympics.

What some companies may be concerned about is how these associations could impact their brands at a local level. In markets like Australia and the US, consumers increasingly want brands to be “authentic” and take a stand on issues, not just be obsessed with profits. Last year’s marriage equality debate in Australia demonstrated how keen brands like Apple were to associate themselves with an issue that connected deeply with a majority of the population.

But with Russia, a certain avoidance strategy might be taking place. The country doesn’t feature prominently in advertising campaigns by the major Western brands for this year’s World Cup. Of course, this could be because Russia is not high on the list of people’s must-take-a-selfie places to post on social media, something Brazil had going for it during the 2014 World Cup. In fact, Brazil continues to feature prominently in advertising for this reason.

However, even when a brand like Lufthansa did try to feature Russia in its World Cup advertisement, it ran into trouble due to difficulties obtaining permission to film there.

Even though companies are increasingly looking for ways to engage with consumers, they’re also treading carefully given how fierce the public backlash can be these days, like the one Pepsi experienced after its now-infamous Kendall Jenner ad.

This could also be why Visa decided to re-record some of its World Cup advertisements that contained voiceovers by Morgan Freeman, who was recently accused by several women of inappropriate behaviour.

All this said, Russia itself is now one of the most attractive markets for many companies, largely thanks to a growing middle class with a love for Western brands. So, Western companies that do shy away from the Russia “brand”, or make an association with the country based on old stereotypes, could pay for it locally when they try to connect with Russian consumers.

Brand FIFA

Probably the greater issue for brands is FIFA itself. The global soccer governing body’s image is more in need of a repair than any bank, especially with the recent corruption scandals still fresh in the minds of so many.

FIFA’s image had become so toxic, in fact, numerous major brands decided not renew their contracts in 2014-15: Sony, Emirates, Continental, Johnson & Johnson and Castrol.

But where some see challenges with FIFA, others see opportunity. With prices much reduced, some unlikely Chinese companies have signed on as sponsors for this year’s World Cup. (Drinkable yoghurt, anyone?)

For these companies, the FIFA brand isn’t as tainted as it is in the West, and with the lure of a possible World Cup in China in the future, there’s more upside to a tie-in with FIFA than any negative associations.

And, of course, the brand transference from some of the highest-profile athletes on earth is hard to ignore in markets like China, tarnished brand or not.

Social and e-game influences

Finally, we may also be seeing a shift in the sport marketing world itself. Though recent sports media deals in the US, Australia and elsewhere point to a healthy market for sports products, the peak earning for event sponsorships like the World Cup has likely been reached.

With the growing adoption of e-games and e-sports by younger sports fans, the desire to experience big events like the World Cup or Olympics in person is diminishing. And with micro-influencers also becoming more popular as endorsers in marketing, there is less need for brands to seek out highly paid football stars who may make just one appearance a year in a market like Australia. If anything, the World Cup really is a victim of its own success.

Read more: Faster, higher, stronger and more expensive: the Olympic Games are losing their shine

Of course, the tournament still connects with so many people in a way few other events can. And there are still ways for brands to find more “authentic” stories through which to connect with fans, such as Icelandair’s commercial celebrating the unheralded national team’s World Cup qualifying campaign.

So, will major Western brands stay with the World Cup in the long term? If the 2026 World Cup is awarded to North America, this could bring many Western brands rushing back to the tournament, willing to pay a premium for any deal.

And while there will never ever be a World Cup in Australia, perhaps one in China would be enough to tempt local brands to cough up the money for a regional partnership.

Authors: Andrew Hughes, Lecturer, Research School of Management, Australian National University

Read more http://theconversation.com/why-some-western-companies-are-distancing-themselves-from-the-world-cup-brand-96989

Australia Today

Why we don't need to prepare young people for the 'future of work'

Shirley Jackson, PhD Candidate in Economic Sociology, University of Melbourne

Ultimately, the future of work depends on what we want our future society to look like.ShutterstockWhile there is little consensus about the “future of work”, one thing is certain – young people are at the coalface. Young workers experience insufficient opportunities for work exp...

Read more

We don’t own data like we own a car – which is why we find data harder to protect

Vincent Mitchell, Professor of Marketing, University of Sydney

ShutterstockIt’s known as the “privacy paradox”: people say they want to protect their data privacy online, but often do little to keep it safe.Why?We propose that it’s because people find data difficult to own – and things we don’t own, we tend not to protect. Th...

Read more

How eye disorders may have influenced the work of famous painters

Andrew Anderson, Associate Professor, Department of Optometry & Vision Sciences, University of Melbourne

It's been argued the Impressionists were short sighted.The Boulevard Montmartre at Night, Camille Pissarro/Wikimedia CommonsVision is an important tool when creating a painted artwork. Vision is used to survey a scene, guide the artist’s movements over the canvas and provide feedback on the co...

Read more

Take heart, charity stunts can make CEOs better people

Jacki Montgomery, Lecturer, Advertising and Media, Western Sydney University

Thousands of CEOs across the country will sleep “rough” tonight to raise money for homelessness. But is one night of sleeping rough enough to truly empathise with those who do it every night? And are CEOs who take part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout just doing it as a self-serving PR stunt?...

Read more

Bangarra's Dark Emu is beautiful, but lacks the punch of its source material

Justine Shih Pearson, Honorary Associate, Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Sydney

Dancers perform in Bangarra's premiere production of Dark Emu. Daniel BoudReview: Dark EmuLights come up on an orb receding back in space, an echo perhaps taking us back in time, or into the cosmos, into the dreaming to the Emu in the Sky. Dancers, in groupings of three or five, move stage right to ...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

Dredging works underway Plantation Island

Tourists and workers travelling to popular tourist destination Plantation Island, Fiji, are set to benefit from safer access when marine channel dredging is completed at the end of June 2018...

Top 5 Tips for Traveling With Dogs

Travelling with your dog can be thrilling, but sometimes it can turn into a real nuisance. Unless you know how to properly restrain the pooch, whether it’ll be able to...

Top Island Destinations for 2018

When we picture island destinations in our minds, we often imagine a tropical beach of white sand, a sun lounger laid out in the shade of a line of palm...

Why Car Rental Excess Insurance is a Smart Choice

Some car rental agencies include basic damage cover in the standard rental fee, with the option to add on liability reduction, or excess insurance. The addition of excess insurance normally...

More Than a Third of Australians Feel 'Too Busy' With Work to Take a Holiday

New research from InterContinental Hotel & Resorts has unveiled a large number of Australians (32 percent) are simply too busy with work to take some much-needed rest and relaxation. Almost...

Matakauri Lodge and Mahu Whenua Lodge

TRIED, TRUE AND SOMETHING NEW  A luxurious accommodation package at Matakauri Lodge + Mahu Whenua Lodge South Island, New Zealand  Available 1 May, 2018 - 30 September, 2018   Central Otago, NEW ZEALAND –...

Heaven is the Adelaide Hills

Looking for a quick getaway? Enjoy food and wine? How about stunning countryside? Look no further! The Adelaide Hills has something for everyone. We flew to Adelaide for a weekend-getaway...

5 Amazing Australian Holiday Ideas

Australia is one of the most fantastic places in the world to travel, explore, and witness all of the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer. With so much rich...

Top Amenities You Enjoy by Renting Luxury Caravans for Road Trips

Do you love to undertake road trips? What the luxury cruises on the ocean are for ocean travelers, luxury caravanning is the same for land-lubbers. Traveling in a luxury caravan...

Fashion & Beauty

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Beach Babe Basics: Everything You Need to Look Stylish at the Beach

Summer is right around the corner, and this year, we all should make the best of it. Right now, it is not just about looking stylish on the streets, it...

Easy Dress-Up Tips for Lazy Girls

Look, getting all dolled up is fun, but you may not always be in the mood for it. Unfortunately, though, this is exactly when you are asked to go to...

HEALTH

My Health Yoga

Carrie-Anne Fields of My Health Yoga has taken her Gold Coast yoga teacher training worldwide. She started her health business 20 years ago aged 22 and has grown into a...

Fit Body 101 - Increase Your Fitness Effectiveness

You have to find some space for physical exercise in your weekly schedule in order to live a good life. Embracing this way of life is very beneficial because it...

The World of Dentistry: 5 Most Common Dental Procedures in Australia

Are you dissatisfied with the state of your pearly whites? Do you often experience discomfort and pain while eating and drinking? Well, be sure that you’re not the only one...

How You Can Conquer Your Dental Anxiety

Does the thought of going to the dentist fill you with dread? Well, you will be pleased to know that you are not the only one. A large number of...

Up and away: the impact of flying on your health

These school holidays, many people will take to the skies, unaware of the risks flying can pose to their health. Brisbane based house call doctor Ryan Harvey said it was important...

How to Lose Weight After 40

As you age, your metabolism slows down, which makes losing weight much harder. Additionally, your hormones start to fluctuate significantly, causing easier weight gain. Sticking to the same tricks you...

LIFE STYLE

Dry Carpet Cleaning Vs Steam Carpet Cleaning: Which one to Choose?

A clean carpet not only improve your interiors, increases your comfort around the office and home but also beneficial for your health. This is why it is necessary to choose...

Carpet cleaning: Things you need to know

Carpets are one of the most essential room interiors, and the kind of maintenance it requires is nothing worth comparison. We understand the importance of good health and hygiene at...

Get The Look: How to build a beautiful weatherboard home

Coastal, Queenslander and Contemporary Australia’s love affair with the weatherboard look can be seen in many of our historic and most popular styles – from the Queenslander to coastal and new...

The Fabrics That Make the Simple Indian Saree Sizzle

6 Yards of Sophistication and Sensuality Saree – an attire that can take you from boardroom to cruises; from kitchen to red-carpet; from lounging to marathon; from weddings to vacation –...

6 Tips for Mixing Design Styles Like a Pro

Each interior style is unique in its own way, creating a specific ambiance in our homes. While some accentuate simplicity and formality, others embrace playfulness and authenticity. Thus, you’re left...

Deborah Hutton: Designing My Dream Hamptons Inspired Home

Television presenter, magazine editor and media personality, Deborah Hutton is renovating her charming three bedroom house in Bronte, into her own Hamptons inspired forever home, with work due to be...

FOOD & DINING

Morning greens: the breakfast skincare regime

It’s safe to assume that most Aussies fail to eat enough greens. Although this was momentarily resolved with the rise and popularity of the green juice movement, the lack of...

Best Hidden Gem Hong Kong Restaurants

You finally find yourself enjoying the endless beauties of China and this fascinating city. In a place with so much variety, all your senses will be wide awake, and your...

JOHNNY DI FRANCESCO NAMED OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR OF EAT STREET MELBOURNE

Johnny Di Francesco, world champion pizzaiolo and owner of Melbourne’s Gradi Group of restaurants, is excited to announce he has been named official ambassador for Eat Street Melbourne 2018. As Ambassador...

The best Mother's Day gift EVER!

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

Sing for Your Supper at Chargrill Charlie’s

To celebrate the final curtain call of the Barden Bellas, Chargrill Charlie’s is giving you the chance to Sing for your Supper! Show off your best acapella vocals to win...

MAKE IT WINE TIME, ANY TIME

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...