Anorak News | The commercial impact of the World Cup

The commercial impact of the World Cup

by | 7th, August 2018

The commercial impact of the World Cup

It’s safe to day that the World Cup is one of the greatest shows on earth. With a global audience measured in the billions rather than millions, almost half of the planet has tuned into this years’ competition, and records have been set in countries like England, where over 23 million (not including those in pubs and fans zones) tuned in to their quarter final appearance against Sweden. With so many eyes on the pitch, the opportunity for businesses to share their message with a ridiculous number of people at once has turned the World Cup into a highly commercial affair.

From the pitch-side hoardings to the adverts that run during the half time break, international football’s biggest tournament becomes something of a circus for advertisers. It’s estimated that an additional $2.4 billion is added to the global advertising market thanks to the World Cup, and brands in England can expect to pay as high as £500,000 for a 30 second spot should the English national team make it to the final. Then there’s the official tie ins, including official beer, official TV set, and even official chocolate bar. Even brands that aren’t associated with FIFA (or indeed football) tend to jump on the World Cup bandwagon too, using the tournament to get some publicity and exposure.

One of the largest advertising deals of the World Cup has come from InBev, the company behind beer brand Budweiser. The ubiquitous ‘Light up the World Cup’ campaign has seen Budweiser become the most exposed beer of the tournament, and when news emerged of the massive spending associated with the World Cup campaign, share prices rose by a staggering 2.1%.

Football-mad consumers may be allowing non-football organisations to boost profits, but for companies who make money out of football year-round, the World Cup can be something of a cornerstone. Sports betting companies can see some of their biggest profits as both regulars and new customers look to try and make some cash from their predictions, and the number of betting adverts tends to rocket in countries with developed gambling industries. It’s not just sports betting where opportunities arise either, and other parts of the gambling world can take advantage of such a huge demographic. Take slots games for example, for a gambling company to feature a slot game on their site that revolves around football at this time of year is an easy way to drive traffic to the website, with football fans potentially enticed by the opportunity to play a fun new game that has a theme to match their interests. The Champion’s Goal online slots game at sites like does precisely this, there are plenty of unique features that capture the interest of football fans, as well as those that don’t know much about the game. Players can get involved from as little as 20p and wager a maximum of £100, this is the beauty of online slots, they cater for a wide range of people and budgets. Jumping on the bandwagon in this way can be a hugely successful business technique, and one that can only be admired. 

In domestic football tournaments, kit sponsors often dominate player’s clothing, but it’s the kit manufacturers who can cash in at the World Cup, with no other advertising allowed on both home and change shirts. This means big money for national teams, with kit brands paying big money for the chance to have their equipment shown off during games. Nigeria may have stolen the limelight with their best-selling kit from Nike, but France were the biggest winners, with the team walking away with a gigantic $54 million this year from their Nike deal.

Players are also the big winners at each World Cup. The opportunity for businesses that come from associating their product to a sporting superstar rocket during the tournament, especially if the particular players manage to go far in the tournament. From former England goalkeeper Joe Hart advertising shampoo to Lionel Messi drinking a deeply unhealthy Pepsi after a game of freestyle soccer, the opportunity to cash in is massive for bigger names. It’s no surprise that Messi is one of the highest paid players at the tournament, and his share of Argentina’s £5.04 million collective team salary will certainly top up the bonuses he’ll receive for advertising during his short time at this years’ tournament.

For the host nation Russia, the World Cup has been seen as a great opportunity to boost the country’s economy. With millions of fans flocking to stadiums and fan zones all over the country and of course hundreds of thousands of international fans paying to see their teams play, the opportunity for improved tourism is of course a valuable income stream. But what about the legacy once the football has finished?

Russia has spent an estimated $11 billion (a 6th of their 2016 defence budget) on preparations for the World Cup, which includes several new stadia and infrastructure, but whether this new hardware is enough to create a long-lasting economic effect remains to be seen. After Brazil hosted the tournament in 2014, sad images appeared of the shiny new Maracana stadium in a state of disrepair, with not enough money remaining to maintain the little-used World Cup arenas. With Russia’s economy not exactly in the strongest place right now and 70% of the $11 billion budget coming from public spending, we may end up seeing a World Cup which actually has a negative effect on the economy.

The biggest winners at the World Cup however are FIFA. The tournament organisers may have been through a (still unresolved) period of corruption, bribery and general controversies plagued by greed, but money is still the number one priority, with football more of an afterthought. With Western companies like Mastercard avoiding the toxic FIFA brand this year, Chinese companies have filled the gap (despite China not appearing at the World Cup), and a mammoth $6.1 billion is expected to line FIFA’s coffers by the time the tournament is over, even after the $400 million prize money has been dished out. Naturally, none of this goes back into grass roots football, begging the question of who is really benefitting from this vast sum of money.

With this years’ World Cup generating so much money, the World Cup is going to continue being just as much about the commercials as it is about the football. The World Cup adverts from the likes of Adidas have indeed become part of the fun, and advertising is now just part of the World Cup experience. It’s also easy to forget that domestic leagues are just as commercial, and with record-breaking Premier League TV rights of £3.5 billion this year plus hundreds of billions made by the clubs in it, the World Cup actually seems like a reasonable little tournament…

Posted: 7th, August 2018 | In: Online-PR Comment | TrackBack | Permalink