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SBD Global/April 21, 2017/People and Pop Culture

Hangin' With ... Octagon Russia Executive Director Matthieu Fenaert

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MATTHIEU FENAERT is the exec director of Octagon Russia. Fenaert recently made the move to Moscow for his new role -- which was announced this week -- after leading Octagon's team in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup and last year's Olympics. Ahead of this summer's Confederations Cup, which will take place from June 17-July 2, and next year's FIFA World Cup, Fenaert spoke to SBD Global via email about sponsorship opportunities for a World Cup outside a traditional football hotbed, FIFA holding its first World Cup since the corruption scandal that rocked the organization in '15 and more. 

On the World Cup taking place outside of Europe or South America ...
Matthieu Fenaert: It's important to note this is not the first time the FIFA World Cup has been hosted outside of a traditional football market; Japan/Korea in 2002 and South Africa in 2010 were each considered very successful tournaments. Looking at long-term strategy, it's crucial for global properties to explore new territories and grow their sports. The 2018 FIFA World Cup is a unique opportunity for FIFA to raise passion for football in one of the world's most populated countries and one of the most powerful players in our current global economy.

On FIFA regaining sponsor appeal ...
Fenaert: The FIFA World Cup as a sponsorship product is one of a kind. The results in terms of awareness, positioning and incremental sales for sponsor brands have been proven time and again. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Octagon worked on behalf of six official partner clients, all of which recognized the value in associating their brand with a property that earns a tremendous amount of positive attention from the fans. In just over a year, three new brands have become FIFA partners, showing that brands see the vast opportunities that come along with the FIFA World Cup and understand this is a long-term platform that can elevate their brand and gives them an unparalleled global reach.

On Asian sponsors ...
Fenaert: China is now a major player on the global sports business landscape, and that includes sponsorship investment coming directly from Chinese-owned companies. I expect we'll continue to see increased engagement from Asian countries and likely more official partners before next year's World Cup. As the only full service marketing agency with local resources in both Russia and China -- backed up by three decades of global football expertise -- Octagon is well positioned to assist Chinese brands currently investing in a FIFA World Cup sponsorship.

On concerns regarding hooliganism ...
Fenaert: I have no doubt that security is a main priority of FIFA, the Organizing Committee and the local authorities and that they are taking the necessary precautions to guarantee a safe and festive atmosphere for fans. I've lead teams and sponsor brands through a number of global sporting events, and as soon as the first kickoff happens, or the torch is lit, the focus turns to sport and the early storylines fade away in favor of brilliant plays and overtime goals.

Hangin' With runs each Friday in SBD Global.
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