The Sponsorship World Cup Kicks Off

It has been seven years in the making and tomorrow the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off in one of the World’s most passionate and colourful footballing nations.

Against a backdrop of unfinished building work, political unrest and a FIFA corruption investigation the attention of the world’s media and the global sports marketing industry will focus on Brazil.

Over 31 days, the national teams of 32 countries will compete at the biggest event in the world for the biggest prize in the world’s biggest sport.

This morning I am on en-route to Brazil for my first World Cup experience. As a life long football fan, the next 16 days promise to be an unforgettable experience but as a sports marketer I am looking forward to seeing the sponsorship World Cup off the field as much as I am looking forward to cheering on my adopted Socceroos.

Sponsorship at and around the 2014 World Cup is a complex and tightly managed billion-dollar pyramid. Every national team has partners and suppliers trying to leverage their country’s presence in Brazil, but the real focus is on the global activities of FIFA’s 15 Official Partners and World Cup sponsors and the seven major Brazilian companies sponsoring the tournament.

For brand association over the four year World Cup cycle since the 2010, these 22 sponsors will spend $1.5 billion in rights fees alone. With sponsors paying between $15m and $200m each and double this amount again in leverage spend, the 2014 World Cup will be the biggest event in sports marketing since the London Olympics, probably the biggest event ever.

FIFA World Cup 2014 Sponsors

The tournament is broadcast globally and unlike the English Premier League who chose broadcasters with the biggest rights fee, FIFA prefer to appoint broadcasts with the biggest potential audience. This gives FIFA’s sponsors the opportunity to expose their brand to over 3.2 billion viewers. The World Cup Final will be the world’s biggest TV event this year with an expected audience of 500m viewers – five times the audience of the Super Bowl.

One of most interesting sports marketing sub plots over the next month will be sponsors’ use of social media. The news feeds of over 1 billion Facebook users will be bombarded with World Cup photos, sponsors or comments. In 2010, Twitter was in its infancy but this year Twitter users will select the official man of the match at every World Cup match. The Twitter account ran by Adidas for Brazuca, the Official World Cup Ball, has a quarter of a million followers.

The combined potential reach of this World Cup across TV, online and social media could top 4 billion and the marketing spend with sponsorship, leverage and advertising should top $5 billion.

World Cup TrophyMedia and Sponsorship valuation agency Repucom estimate that during tournament broadcasts FIFA sponsors will receive over $4.5 billion worth of brand exposure and media value. Although a massive number, in sponsorship terms this is actually surprising low given the reach and audience as it represents a 3:1 return on sponsorship investment (A major sponsorship in the A-League delivers a return of between 4 and 6 times a sponsors fee in terms of exposure). The premium, unique, exclusive and global nature of the World Cup allow FIFA to charge premium fees because there is simply nothing that can match the passion and colour of a World Cup.

So the world waits for the party to kick-off… both players and a sponsors will go to bed tonight dreaming of being the star of the show. The next month will be full of wins, losses, goals, own goals, red cards, career defining and career ending moments and that is just for the world’s top marketers. It promises to be a special trip, watch this space for the highs and lows – I can’t wait!