Football (or soccer depending on where you are) fans have been waiting with bated breath for the sport’s marquee tournament. In 2018, football’s biggest event racked up a viewership of 3.5 billion people. This year, some 5 billion folks (more than half of the human population) are expected to tune in. Marketers everywhere just perked their ears up.

There’s also another golden opportunity for marketers here: it’s the first time ever the event coincides with the holidays.  

To escape the heavy Qatar summer, the games are being held in November and December, and 60% of fans plan to watch them online. This gives brands more options to interact with fans, even if they’re not in the stadiums, which is hugely advantageous.  

Football + Holidays = Big Marketing Opportunities

And here’s why: 40% of football fans plan to buy gifts earlier than usual this year, and 15% of all those gifts are expected to be football-themed. Plus, 67% of football fans consider brands more appealing when they take part in sports sponsorships (and 52% of non-fans think the same, so you’re not really losing anything by including sports in your branding – it ups your standing to a broad audience). 

Another important tidbit: Women are currently 37% of the fan population (not a small number when we’re talking billions here) and that number is increasing. Considering that they contributed to $31.8 trillion in global consumer spending in 2019, that’s an audience you want to focus on. 

Even if your brand has zero relation to international football, there are many ways to build marketing campaigns around it, from implementing national colors, to celebrating your company’s diversity with social media content featuring your employees cheering on their national team, to interacting with fans who are following you on Twitter. 

Check Out Some of the Most Creative Marketing Examples

Kia created #KiaInspireTogether on Instagram, encouraging fans to share their own content, with the best being displayed in stadiums, as well as shedding a light on the personal histories of the 64 child ball carriers.

Hisense, meanwhile, is giving all buyers a chance to win prizes. It can be that simple.

McDonald’s #WannaGoToMcD is taking advantage of its global marketing and implementing different local strategies for each region: in the Middle East, fans can take photos of red cards and draw fries on them to share on social media; in China, there’ll be “midnight riders” for food deliveries since the games will air late at night; while in the UK, one million meals will be delivered by partnering up with FareShare.

I’m Ready to Get Started, But Need Some Inspo

Here are some tips that might apply to your brand, and your business:

Just be forewarned that there are some trademarked elements that are out of bounds to most brands, so make sure you know them by heart to avoid being penalized.

  • Engage with your audiences online before, during and after games;
  • Display your national team colors (or don’t, if you’re a global brand);
  • Encourage fan-created, and employee-created, content;
  • Create football-themed marketing collateral (like this blog post). 
  • Offer discounts when your national team is playing;
  • Use football imagery and expressions – don’t be afraid of football puns (we aren’t).

Or, don’t do any of these. But do spend time thinking about what works best for your brand and audience and, most importantly of all, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the event!

And hey, even Santa’s got work to do this holiday season, so make sure to not take your eye off the ball.


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