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Consumer Research


World Cup brand winners revealed

World Cup brand winners revealed

Research undertaken by consumer insight specialists Engage Research, with partners GMI and Framework, during the course of the FIFA World Cup, which ended yesterday in South Africa, has revealed that brands which have developed an ongoing relationship with football have fared better in consumer perception terms than brands which have sought to leverage the tournament for short-term promotional activity.

Moreover, formal FIFA World Cup sponsorship has also been no guarantee of increased customer awareness with some brands which supported the England national team achieving higher recognition in the UK, given the typically tribal world of the football supporter.

Carlsberg, the official beer of Team England – but not itself a World Cup sponsor – was more readily linked with the tournament by UK consumers than official sponsor Budweiser. 36% linked Carlsberg with the tournament compared with 31% for Budweiser, and to ground that in a harder measure, those making such a link had a higher purchase intent for the brands.

Carlsberg, which reportedly launched a £30 million World Cup campaign including 2.5 million promotional packs, was helped by a highly patriotic advertising campaign featuring, among others, Stuart Pearce, Sir Trevor Brooking, Dame Ellen MacArthur and World Darts Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor. Carlsberg was reported as having seen sales increase by 68% in the week before the World Cup began.

Budweiser utilised social media heavily as part of its campaign, including Bud United, an online World Cup reality television show, where housemates were evicted in line with their national team from the tournament. Almost 1 million people signed up to the brand’s Bud United Facebook page. Budweiser also released a limited edition World Cup aluminium bottle.

Not faring quite so well was Kit Kat, with only 8% of respondents linking the brand with the World Cup, putting up an apparent two fingers of their own to Nestlé’s £10 million football-themed “Cross Your Fingers” campaign. The ‘Cross Your Fingers’ campaign offered consumers the chance to win £1,000 every day from May 3rd until June 11th and was reportedly the company’s largest investment in promotion.

Television advertising was supported by in-store point-of-sale and digital marketing, including unique on-pack codes, which could be entered on the brand’s website.

Mars, in contrast, which has invested in a five-year partnership with the Football Association and is an official supplier to the England team, was associated by 29% of respondents with the World Cup, partly on the back of changing the name of the product to “Believe”, opting for obviously patriotic wrapping and a multi-media marketing campaign that included England legend John Barnes reprising his now iconic rap on New Order’s 1990 World Cup song “World In Motion”.

McDonald’s, an official World Cup sponsor, topped the survey of various FMCG brands with 53% brand association. McDonald’s not only sponsored FIFA’s World Cup Fantasy Football game, which resided on the official FIFA web site, it also ran its World Cup Escort Programme giving more than 1400 children from 47 different counties the chance to walk onto the pitch holding the hand of one of the players.

Its advertising campaign focused on the normal football fan rather than the more dramatic football-led advertising of other brands and always made the restaurant an intrinsic part of the promotion, including how McDonald’s restaurants could be a natural meeting place for fans – and non-fans – to meet up, win, lose or draw.

In the battle of the soft drinks giants Pepsi failed to dent Coca Cola’s close association with major global sporting events including the World Cup, despite a lavish television advertising and on-pack campaign featuring international football stars Lionel Messi, Kaka, Frank Lampard, Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba.

Only 19% of respondents linked Pepsi with the World Cup compared with 51% for Coca Cola, a long term FIFA World Cup partner.

For Coca Cola it was a case of less is more. Much of the brand’s activity was comparatively low-key, with advertising led by a montage of World Cup goal celebrations.

This was supported by activity including The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour; a Coca-Cola Football Camp, where 250 teenagers from around the world gathered at a special football camp hosted by Coca-Cola in Pretoria tournament, and Coca-Cola giving young football fans around the world the chance to be official flag bearers and lead the teams out on to the pitch before the matches.

One interesting anomaly in the research was Sky which, although it did not carry any World Cup matches live, was associated with the tournament by 29% of respondents. This score shot up to 40% amongst 16-24 year olds and 33% amongst women. It’s a reflection of the inherent association between the broadcaster and football in general, which has been carried through to World Cup recognition.

There may be something to learn here for other brands such as Sure and Lynx that have football ‘but who didn’t turn it on for the World Cup.

Alexa Arrowsmith, Director of Engage Research, said, “Two things have become clear from this research. First, the consumer is quite savvy and recognises the difference between brands that opportunistically latch onto an event like the World Cup for short term gain and those that are perceived as actually investing in the national team or the national game, for which World Cup promotions seem a natural and logical extension.

"Second, in a World Cup, we inherently line up behind our own national team, which is why brands that have aligned themselves with England have fared better in the mind of the UK consumer than those which have paid heavily to link their brand to the tournament itself. There may be lessons here for brands to consider with the London Olympics only two years away.”

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