Sponsorship synergy? The connection football fans have with the World Cup’s biggest sponsors

With FIFA expected to bring in around $1.5 billion from World Cup sponsorship revenue, there is no doubt that the cost of partnering with FIFA, or being a sponsor of The World Cup, is an extremely expensive venture. But clearly, those brands who do partner or sponsor this most prominent of sporting events will anticipate a healthy return on their investment, or they would avoid splashing out on something so costly.

Using the latest data from our Great Britain TGI study of consumer behaviour, we explore the engagement between British consumers and World Cup sponsors to see what synergies exist. Sponsors and partners included are Adidas, McDonald’s, Coke, Hyundai and Budweiser.

Adidas takes the lead in kit sponsorship

Adidas have been partnering with FIFA since 1970 providing the official match ball for all World Cup matches and they also sponsor 12 of the 32 participating teams at the 2018 World Cup - more than any other kit maker. Given that Adidas is a huge name in football anyway, it is not surprising that 51% of British adults who play football regularly have purchased something from Adidas in the last 12 months.

It seems that Adidas resonates with the more regular football followers opposed to the casual fan. TGI data reveals those who occasionally watch football on TV are only 5% more likely than the average adult to purchase Adidas branded goods, whereas regular watchers on TV are 53% more likely. Getting up close and personal is also more likely to impact purchase behaviours. People who pay to attend football matches are 84% more likely to purchase Adidas branded goods. Of course, buying Adidas may not always necessarily be a direct endorsement for the brand, but fans wishing to buy their team’s kit will end up purchasing something Adidas branded by default if their name is on the kit.

McDonald’s consumption serves up a surprising picture

McDonald’s have been a sponsor of the FIFA World Cup since 1994 and are consequently a highly recognised sponsor in the event today. When we look at people who play football regularly they are a whopping (pun intended) 84% more likely to regularly consume McDonald’s food than the average British adult. Adults who watch football on TV regularly are 22% more likely to do so and those who occasionally watch are only 4% more likely. Much of this can be explained by reference to behavioural changes by age. Those who eat at McDonalds regularly are particularly likely to be at the younger end of the age spectrum, as are those who play football regularly. But this is not the case for those who like to watch football on TV.

Can Coca-Cola add more fizz to their sponsorship?

Coca-Cola has had stadium advertising at every FIFA World Cup since 1950 and started official sponsorship in 1978, making them one of the longest standing partners of FIFA. Coca-Cola is consequently strongly synonymous with the World Cup and this shows in its consumption by football fans. 53% of players of football drink Coke of some kind as a ‘most often’ chosen fizzy drink, making this group 35% more likely to do so than the average adult. The equivalent figure for those who have any interest in football is that they are only a modest 15% more likely to drink Coke most often. However, it must be noted that with 40% of British adults claiming to drink Coke most often, significant differentiation from the average adult involves very large numbers in absolute terms.

Hyundai has low mileage but solid growth potential

Hyundai began its alliance with FIFA comparatively recently compared to some other World Cup partners, starting in 1999 and in 2010 signed a long-term agreement to continue the partnership until 2022. When looking at Hyundai ownership amongst football fans and players in the UK there is a low correlation. Adults who are over 18 and regularly play football are 62% less likely than the average adult to own a Hyundai.

The most likely football-engaged group to own a Hyundai are the occasional watchers of football on TV, and even they are 8% less likely than the average adult. Whereas not many football fans own a Hyundai, the opportunity is that this represents a big growth potential for Hyundai and being one of the youngest of the FIFA partners, they may grow in the football community in the future on the back of their partnership.

Budweiser is the beer of choice for many

Budweiser have been a sponsor of the FIFA World Cup since 1986 and focus heavily on fan engagement. Therefore, it is not surprising to see that adults (aged 18+) who play football regularly are 161% more likely than the average adult to drink Budweiser as a ‘most often’ beer brand. Adults who regularly watch football on TV are 54% more likely to drink Budweiser most often and those who look up football on the internet are 33% more likely to do so.

In conclusion…

With many of the World Cup partners and sponsors enjoying success with regular players and venue attendees, it seems the best way for brands to approach sponsorship is to make themselves seem synonymous with the sport itself and it isn’t as easy as just putting your name on something. With the brands we have examined here, with the exception of Hyundai, there is a higher likelihood of football followers using the partners products and/or services compared to the average adult, however Hyundai is one of the newest of the sponsors on this list and looking at the history of partnerships, time can play a big part in consumers associating brands with a sport or sporting event. 

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