It’s taken a little while to come to terms with the fact that, this time, football didn’t come home. But now the dust has settled, we can take a look back at the campaigns around the world cup to see which brands scored, and which missed the goal entirely.
Some brands were able to amplify their message by creating work with more talk value, co-opting some of the World Cup’s hype to raise awareness. The best example of this is perhaps the National Centre for Domestic Violence, whose outdoor campaign ‘The Not-So-Beautiful Game’ highlights the link between football and domestic violence. In doing so, they aimed to reach out to victims of domestic violence and offer support, as well as raising awareness for the charity overall.
Other brands took a shot at gamifying the matches, with mixed results. On the one hand, Deliveroo ran a promotion offering £1 credit for every goal scored in a match on orders placed before kick off. The campaign was light-hearted fun and embraced by football fans and Deliveroo lovers alike to boost sales. On the flip side, Mastercard crashed and burned with a campaign which appeared to link their willingness to feed starving children with however many goals Ferdinand happened to score throughout the tournament. The campaign was met with criticism across the board, such as:
The contrasting reception of these two campaigns shows the consequences of aiming for ‘engagement at any cost’ without considering, you know, whether you’re not feeding starving children in the process.
In all the hype the World Cup generated, brands and agencies were surely on the look-out for ways they could get involved and borrow a bit of the limelight for themselves – perhaps the most unlikely winner being M&S. Though they made Southgate’s official FA waistcoat this year, they’ve actually been the official tailor for the England team for the last 11 years. This year was different however, as fans jumped on the waistcoat trend, with waistcoat sales more than doubling for the retailer. A tactical social campaign accompanied the uplift in sales, with fans joining in on #WaistcoatWednesday for the semi-finals.
There are some strong examples here of how to get in on the World Cup action, and when it would be better to take another tact. The most pertinent piece of advice in all this seems to be: go with the idea which feels like the most natural fit for your brand, and keeps your audience at its core. Shoe-horning your way into an event like the world cup is a sure-fire way to stay sitting on the side-lines. And there’s only four more years till you can start planning your next move!