The challenges and opportunities of activating the FIFA 2018 World Cup

The challenges and opportunities of activating the FIFA 2018 World Cup

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is set to be the sporting event of the year. With only a few months to go brands and companies are looking for new ways to make the most of the commercial opportunities and gain significant exposure.

‘The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia has the potential to be a landmark event for the sports marketing and digital industry. Never before has digital consumption been so high or so well understood. This combined with peak time live TV destination viewing creates significant opportunities for official sponsors but potentially more so for unofficial sponsors’ says Snack Gaming Co-Founder Rupert Pratt

What makes the Football World Cup so desirable is the potential reach. Both official and unofficial brands invest millions of pounds to create an engaging campaign that has the possibility to draw in new visitors, customers or enquiries. Putting the audience into context, the FIFA World Cup attracts over four billion fans. This equates to companies having the potential to communicate with more than 50% of the world’s population providing unprecedented exposure compared to most other sports tournaments.

Over the year’s sponsorship has had to evolve to keep up with digital consumption. Consequently, it has brought with it a range of potential opportunities and challenges. Organisations are implementing more cross-media campaigns than ever before with the objective of receiving higher returns. Companies are producing global strategies that also resonate in local markets with the idea of showcasing a compelling big idea and story which gets the fans engaged. An advantage of the World Cup being held in Russia means that coverage is within a European time zone ensuring viewership in many countries around the world and maximising returns from campaigns.

Fan Consumption

One of the main developments over the past few years is fan consumption and user-generated content/participation campaigns. More video content will be consumed from the Russia World Cup 2018 than ever before. This comes because of increasing access to mobile and tablet technology as well as live-streams.  Social media has allowed brands to target new fan bases and engage with their current followers in a more interactive, emotive and genuine way. Not only does social media provoke a conversation to take place between supporters and opposing fans but it allows organisations to implement real-time reactive stunts and viral campaigns which amplifies engagement, reach and meaningful interaction with football fans.

Local Activations

The experience is becoming more important every sporting competition. Football fans travel from all around the world to support their team and hopefully see their nation succeed. There’s truly nothing like the atmosphere within and outside the stadium of a World Cup contest.

As well as sponsored local activation in the host country, brands also have the ability to capitalise in their native countries. Activations are one of the best ways to engage with consumers and provides for one of the most effective channels where organisations can capitalise on the anticipation surrounding sporting competitions. Not only do brand stunts considerably raises awareness of the organisation but it allows you to consume and capture coverage in an audience led environment. An example of a World Cup-branded stunt is Coca-Cola’s World Cup Trophy Tour in 2014, here they integrated photography posted by football fans on Instagram into the brand’s official World Cup anthem. Coca-Cola reaped the benefits from this campaign. It amplified their fan engagement and evoked the passion and energy the brand was trying to portray to gain meaningful interactions.

Activations are a creative way to capitalise on the real-time action that allows you to show off your personality, credibility and help to drastically widen your presence.

Challenges and Opportunities

Many fans will follow all the action but won’t travel abroad to Russia in fact out of 1800 participants taking part in a study less than 5% will be making the trip to the host country. This presents a clear opportunity. With digital and social media consumption outstripping traditional platforms a multitude of channels and content considerations need filling by unofficial partners.  A company that executes its campaign surrounding the World Cup correctly has a huge opportunity to acquire and retain new customers. What is critical to success is truly understanding what football fans desire and how they want to consume coverage so make sure to fully understand what inspires football fans and how to correctly monetize viewing experiences

For every brand that takes on the task of sponsoring the Russia World Cup officially or unofficially it’s important that the fans stay at the heart. The conversation that can be built up from such an event is like none other. It has the potential to promote your companies profile to new levels which often makes activating sporting events a risk worth taking.

To see an overview of our Russia World Cup 2018 fan consumption research click here. To receive the full report contact

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