World Cup

Get to The Point with our monthly take on the hottest topics. This time, we explore the much-anticipated FIFA World Cup and what it means for culture, consumers and brands alike.

It's that time again. Marketers perk up at the potential jingle of cash registers. Hype and hope go into overdrive and emotion fills the air. No, not the John Lewis Christmas ad... but a one-time, winter edition of the FIFA World Cup, held in Qatar.


Despite the increasingly fragmented, disconnected nature of the world, the World Cup is the rare phenomenon that can truly bring people together on a global scale.

As new stories get written with every penalty, last-gasp equaliser or agonising near-miss, the innate tribalism of sports fandom (Messi or Ronaldo?) and the global nature of the game - even in countries where football isn’t a traditional pastime - make the World Cup a cultural conversation that will be on everyone’s lips. And who doesn’t love getting involved in cultural conversation more than brands?

It can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon for the exposure and to make a timely but ultimately tenuous connection to your brand. But a connection isn’t worth making unless it’s actually meaningful, real and relevant – and that’s where real opportunity lies for brands this (and every) World Cup. Take Specsavers for example, seamlessly linking product story with football story after England’s controversial exit from the 2010 World Cup. Yes, they hijacked a recent news event, but crucially did it in a way that just made sense for their brand and product.


There will be a lot of things going on during (and not long after) this World Cup: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and of course Christmas, all underscored by a cost-of-living crisis... It’s a time when all brands will be looking to compete for consumer hearts and minds, and there will be a lot of noise to cut through.

Some brands are playing up to this coming together of different events in order to stand out - UK supermarket Aldi and broadcaster Fox Sports both combine Christmas and World Cup tropes in their recent ads – but is this enough? We believe brands can do more to make the most of this potential once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

To make a more meaningful connection with fans, you have to meet them where they are, you have to know your own brand’s purpose – why you exist and the part you play in people’s lives – and then how that comes to life for a fan (or non-fan) during the World Cup.

A Visa World Cup NFT might be fancy and shiny, but it won’t make the experience of being a fan more fun, like for example, an F&B brand partnering with a delivery service to help fans snack up during half-time. Whatever you represent and whoever you target, one thing’s for sure: you must make it authentic. Make your communications reflect what your brand is there to do, so you can make your consumer’s World Cup experience better.


To be an authentic brand is to be authentic everywhere, not just where and when it’s convenient. BrewDog, the rebellious UK beer brand, recently released a campaign based on their non-involvement in the tournament in the tournament. As they put it, they are the anti-sponsors of the event, calling out all the controversies of the World Cup being held in Qatar. Though it fits their brand voice, it has quickly become an example of how important it is to walk the walk and not just talk the talk (the beer brand has since come under fire as they still intend to show the tournament in their pubs and fanzones).

Whatever your take on the latest BrewDog fiasco, it’s clear that they made the message too much about themselves and not enough about the thing that actually makes the World Cup special – the fans. In doing so, they’ve succeeded in highlighting the gaps in their brand experience. An own goal which makes fantastic viewing for their competitors.

So, what's The Point?

  • No bandwagons for the sake of it. Make sure you have something meaningful to contribute.

  • Use your opportunity to make the experience of being a fan even better.

  • Remember that your brand is a series of connected experiences – and inconsistencies will be called out.