The 9 Biggest Sponsors of the 2014 FIFA World Cup
As anyone with a pulse would know, it’s World Cup soccer time. And when there’s a global event this big, there’s bound to be sponsors. So many huge international sponsors. As big a tournament as this is for the players, it’s probably equally big for a collection of marketing departments for the below companies.
Now, any time that buys a patch on a jersey, a cooler on a sideline, or a TV commercial is technically a “sponsor,” and we wanted to keep this list to under a thousand entries, so what we did is break the list down to two parts. The first part, numbers 9-7, are the bigger of the “World Cup Sponsors,” who are paying to participate in this event specifically. No small potatoes, but nothing compared to 6-1. Those are “FIFA Sponsors.” They follow FIFA anywhere they go, and are the biggest sponsors of the tournament.
In what has to be a disappointment to these sponsors, political unrest, and a general dissatisfaction with the World Cup in Brazil has forced some sponsors to tone down their branding message, which essentially means they’re paying the same amount of money for a less direct communication with the audience. Bad for the companies, good for viewers who are tired of being hit in the head with messaging.
Here we are. It didn’t take long for McDonald’s to show up. McDonald’s big gimmick, besides seemingly millions of TV ads is something called “World Cup Fantasy” which is simply fantasy soccer using an arbitrary budget and all the players in the tournament. Not revolutionary, but it’s a recurring tactic that McDonald’s has used, and it puts the focus on the game and players rather than the fast food chain. Sounds like at least a step in the right direction.
Budweiser. Budweiser’s a tricky one. Brazil had banned all alcohol sales from its soccer matches in recent years to curb violence at the games. And it seems to have had some success. Instances of violence and hooliganism have fallen. But when the World Cup came to town, FIFA wanted to make sure that Budweiser had a product to sell at the games, so it considered that ban a dealbreaker, and essentially forced Brazil to repeal the ban for the tournament. Way to stick to your principals, FIFA!
We are now among the FIFA sponsors. If this was the mafia, these would be the “made” members. They’re thick as thieves with soccer’s organizing body. Don’t expect to enjoy a lot of purchasing power at FIFA events with your AmEX. Mastercard might be ok, though. To be honest, I’ve never really understood the difference. Anyway, Visa also rolls big bucks into the Olympics, because, as well positioned as they are in the States, there are a lot of developing nations out there, and Visa wants to give them all credit cards.
Sony may have lost a little favor in the US market recently, but looking at this globally, it’s one of only a handful of juggernaut electronics brands, with Samsung and LG being two of the most iconic others. However, they don’t have a FIFA partnership, so we’re done talking about those guys. Sony will take to the tournament not only to regain some footing in the world of TVs, but to bang a drum to remind people of PS4? REMEMBER PS4? BUY ONE, SOCCER FANS!
And what would a sponsorship collective be without an airline? A stupid joke. That’s what it would be. Ya gotta have an airline, and Emirates, the UAE-based airline, has chosen to step up. A global platform based in a very global city. Aside from the tournament at large, Emirates is among the largest club sponsors, tossing bucks to Arsenal, AC Milan, and Real Madrid. You’re used to seeing them on the pitch, and you’ll continue to see them.
It’s no surprise that the car company in the mix isn’t American. For such an international game, the best match is a high-volume car maker. Or two of them in this instance. Hyundai and Kia operate on the lower end of the cost spectrum, which is a perfect match for the World Cup, as the universe of international buyers who are looking to step into a Jaguar or Audi is a little too niche for sponsorship buy-in required.
Let’s not forget that healthy sports drink, Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola feels right at home on this list of sponsors (and any other events sponsorship roster) simply because it’s arguably the biggest brand in the world. And while in NYC you can go to jail for drinking a large Coke (or so is my understanding of that law), there are plenty of locales in the world that haven’t jumped on that bandwagon yet. And Coca-Cola would like to sell all those residents a beverage.
A match made in heaven. Adidas, much more so than Nike (though the gap may be narrowing) is considered THE soccer shoe and apparel sponsor. So, yeah, they’re pretty heavily involved in FIFA. They sponsor countless clubs, countless nations, and countless players, so their participation in the largest soccer tournament in the world is pretty much a foregone conclusion. While the World Cup needs a car manufacturer and electronics company in its roster, it really, really needs Adidas. And it’s got them.