World Cup sponsor activity ‘subdued’ as tournament kicks off​

By our News Team | 2022

All the traditional big-brand sponsors have taken their place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but things are slightly different this time around.

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicking off in Qatar on Sunday (20 November), sponsor and brand activity around soccer’s most prestigious tournament still seems a little subdued, according to some marketing industry analysts.

This may not be surprising, given the trepidation in many quarters over host nation Qatar’s human rights record, suggestions of corruption in the process that awarded the World Cup to the tiny Middle Eastern country, and the fact that, for the first time, it is not being held during the Northern Hemisphere summer.

Sports Marketing

Photo credit: Brewdog

UK-based sports journalist Sam Carp, for example, describes the atmosphere as “a little subdued” and quotes Neil Hopkins, Global Head of Strategy for the M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment agency, as saying that most sponsors are “less present”.

“When [the World Cup is] up against Christmas, it means you end up double-counting the amount you’ve got to market. So it’s either eating into your Christmas budget, which is still the most important trading event of the year for just about everybody associated with the World Cup, or you activate less against the World Cup,” Hopkins explained.

In an interview with the Sportspromedia.com website, Hopkins also noted how many brands who have released ads ahead of the tournament have made little reference to its location, choosing instead to focus on the fan experience of watching from afar.

Avoiding mention of Qatar can be a little harder, though, for FIFA’s 14 corporate partners and World Cup sponsors – which include the likes of Coca-Cola, Adidas and McDonald’s.

Big-name brands push on regardless

But many big-name brands are pushing on, regardless, in their efforts to be associated with the famous sporting event that draws billions of TV viewers.

For example, the PepsiCo sports drink brand Gatorade launched a new global campaign featuring current and retired soccer stars Lionel Messi, Roberto Carlos and Robert Pires a week ahead of the start of the World Cup.

A video spot entitled ‘The Next Ninety Minutes’ focuses on how athletes mentally and physically prepare for a challenge. The brand has also released a limited edition of its Gx Bottle, which was co-designed by Messi, who plays for Argentina and French club Paris Saint-Germain.

But some brands have taken an ‘anti-World Cup’ marketing stance. Brewdog, the Scottish brewery and pub chain, embarked on an OOH campaign with billboards that have anti-tournament slogans such as ‘The Beautiful Shame’, ‘Eat, Sleep, Bribe, Football’ and ‘First Russia, then Qatar. Can’t wait for North Korea’.

But Brewdog has also come under fire for its stance, with some people pointing it that its beer is being sold in Qatar and that its pub venues will still show tournament games on TV. For its part, the company says profits from beers sold in Qatar will be donated to charity.

With the tournament only scheduled to end on 18 December, look out for more sponsor intrigue still to come!

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.