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Volume 7 No. 95
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Marketing Execs Address Whether Sponsors Should Avoid 2018 World Cup

With FIFA's reputation "in tatters" and "mounting concerns over hooliganism in the host country," brands could consider avoiding the 2018 World Cup, according to Alex Brownsell of CAMPAIGN LIVE. FIFA has been "mired in a succession of corruption scandals around the bidding to host tournaments." The last U.S. or European sponsor to "ink a deal" with FIFA was Johnson & Johnson in '11. On top of this is the Russia situation, "not least in the context of accusations of election-meddling in the West." Fears are "also high that the Russian hooliganism glimpsed in France" at Euro 2016 "will prove a bitter taste of events to come." Several marketing execs were asked whether brands would be "better off swerving clear" of the tournament. Their responses are below.

Former Synergy CEO Tim Crow: "No. The only brands with a FIFA headache are FIFA sponsors. For everyone else it’s wide open. Yes, of course, England are odds-on to go out early, but until then brands should dive in and party like it’s 1966, because their England-supporting consumers will be. The engaged audience will be much, much bigger than the usual football base, and the digital era has made it easier than ever before to reach them at scale." 

Outgoing Slingshot Sponsorship Managing Dir Jackie Fast: "The easy answer most people would shout is, 'Yes -- stay clear.' However, the situation is much more complex and controversy disguises the very real opportunity for brands. The World Cup is the biggest single global sporting event in 2018. For global brands, this provides a cost-effective, homogenous route to market." 

Cake Managing Dir Jim Dowling: "No. Football fans aren't stupid. They read the news and know what FIFA’s top brass have been up to. But they don’t care about FIFA, they care about the World Cup. They want their national team to be there and, in England’s case, not to embarrass them by losing to a country with a population the size of Norwich."
Snack Gaming co-Founder Rupert Pratt: "The World Cup is one of the greatest sporting tournaments in the world and when the tournament starts, so does the fan engagement. None of this stops sponsors and advertisers from benefiting from running official and unofficial campaigns around the event. I still expect a summer full of football-related campaigns" (CAMPAIGN LIVE, 12/5).