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FIFA World Cup Partners Seeing Mixed Results from Marketing Alliances

From June 25, 2014 – 

As we near the half-way point of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, there have been both expected and unexpected results on the pitch, just as there have been anticipated and surprising results in the field of marketing, sponsorships and activation.

All told, FIFA is expected to generate $4 billion in revenue for the event, which runs through July 13. Of that, some $1.4 billion will be realized via sponsorship revenue from 22 companies designated as FIFA global, World Cup global or World Cup regional partners).

FIFA’s six global partners are adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai-Kia Motors, Emirates, Sony and Visa. Combined, they spent an estimated $730 million for worldwide marketing rights in 2014, according to industry analysts.

Concurrently, FIFA’s eight World Cup partners spent about $500 million combined for global rights. This group includes Anheusuer-Busch (Budweiser), Castrol, Continental, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Moy Park, Oi and Yingu.

For some more than others, the investment is paying off.

Overall, 36% of Americans can correctly identify at least one official sponsor for the World Cup. according to a just-released study of U.S. consumers and fans from global marketing and research firm YouGov, which has its U.S. headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

When asked which brands they thought were official sponsors of the FIFA World Cup, people most often — and correctly — recognized Coca-Cola (21%), McDonald’s (19%), adidas (16%) and Visa (16%).

Hispanic consumers named the same four brands but had higher recognition across the board: Coca-Cola (36%), McDonald’s (27%), adidas (22%) and Visa (18%).

Among the least-recognized official FIFA World Cup partners by consumers and fans in the U.S.: Sony (9%), Emirates (7%), Hyundai-Kia (6% and 5%, respectively, the latter despite the presence of model Adriana Lima, pictured above), Johnson & Johnson (6%) and Castrol (4%).

Hispanics had higher sponsorship recognition with 36% of Hispanics correctly identifying Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s (27%).

Accordingly, the three brands have had substantial World Cup-related commercial time both during World Cup games as well as during other programming. Coke has been operating under the umbrellas theme that the World Cup “belongs to all of us.” Adidas has had numerous spots featuring some of the top players in the event. McDonald’s has been focusing on its “Peel. Play. Olé Olé” theme offering the chance to win soccer trips, soccer-themed prizes and instant win prizes.

The numbers are also higher among people who have watched at least one FIFA World Cup game, where Coca-Cola (48%), adidas (45%) and McDonald’s (40%) remain the most recognizable brands, according to YouGov.

FIFA partner Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch) comes in at 11% recognition, which places it in the middle of the pack in YouGov’s survey.

However, according to a separate YouGov study, Budweiser’s recognition factor is due more to its on-going “Are You Up For Whatever” push, which broke during Super Bowl XLVIII this past February (and continued with NBA-themes though the recent playoffs) and its MLB-related effort with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith to petition the White House to make baseball’s Opening Day a national holiday than from its World Cup alliance.

According to YouGov, “Every year around Super Bowl time, YouGov BrandIndex’s chart for Budweiser shows an eight-to-ten week surge in Buzz score — which asks respondents, “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?” — stemming from their ad campaign. Once the score drops back to ‘normal’ levels it tends to fluctuate in a fairly narrow range for the remainder of the year until it’s time to ramp up again for the following year’s Super Bowl.

“So far, the patriotic packaging and World Cup sponsorship have done very little to change that cycle.”

Meanwhile several brands that are not official FIFA sponsors scored high among consumers, most notably Nike (which 16% mis-recognized as a FIFA partner), Pepsi (12%), AT&T (11%) and MasterCard (9%).

MasterCard scored even higher in a study from GlobalWebIndex, where more than 33% of consumers identified the brand as a sponsor of the 2014 soccer games, MasterCard has not been an official FIFA sponsor since 2006.

Other brands not officially aligned with FIFA that did well in the GlobalWebindex World Cup survey: Nike, Samsung, Puma, American Express, Pepsi and Procter & Gamble. Another survey, conducted by Brand Keys, New York, list the Top Ten brands that consumers most remembered during FIFA World Cup broadcasts, seven of which are FIFA partners: Gatorade, Hyundai, Nike, adidas, Kia, Visa, Coca-Cola, Beats by Dre, McDonald’s and Budweiser.

Looking forward, according to YouGov, 31% of Americans are interested in the World Cup, but interest among Hispanics (68%) is higher than others. The best news of all for official and non-official FIFA partners: 90% of those people who have already watched the World Cup will continue to so.