Sponsorship can be as nail-biting as the game

As I write, the opening match of the Fifa 2010 World Cup is 45 days away. Most of you will have had any brand plans associating you with this magical event in place long ago.

But even if that’s the case, you should beware. There’s a long way to go before you should start assuming you can sit and watch the brand love and increased sales figures roll in.

There is danger inherent in associating, either officially or unofficially, with events such as the World Cup and properties such as football. On the face of it, the tournament is a wonderful property for Fifa to monetise through various levels of corporate partnership and an obvious central focus for your summer brand plans.

But in many ways the sheer excitement, passion and joy that you are hoping your brand can tap into in June and July is no more Fifa’s to sellthan it is yours to buy.

Without wishing to sound glib, it belongs to the fans. It can be felt on sofas in every front room, in the pubs and, of course, for those lucky enough, in the stadia. If your brand is seen, used or consumed by anybody in any of these spaces you stand a good chance of being part of somebody’s World Cup experience. But the association with that experience must be earned and only comes if you prove you can add value for the fans, your target customers.

Manchester United Supporters Trust (Must), agitating for a change of club ownership and for the Glazer family to be gone, is challenging the club’s sponsors to decide between the Glazers and the fans.

“In many ways the sheer excitement, passion and joy that you are hoping your brand can tap into in June and July is no more FIFA’s to sell than it is yours to buy”

A version of the story, published on MarketingWeek.co.uk earlier this week has so far garnered only readers’ comments accusing Must of “naivety beyond comprehension”. Maybe, maybe not. What is true is that the United fans’ protests have hit the headlines almost as often as the football this season. The number of gold and green scarves at various matches has left nobody in any doubt as to how many Old Trafford regulars would prefer change (the colour code harks back to Newton Heath, the club founded in 1878 that later became Manchester United, and has become a symbol of angry protest).

As a potential sponsor, hoping to buy into the passion and loyalty of Manchester United supporters, would you strike a deal with a club that was so under fire from your target customer? You may decide that the problem is one felt locally and that you would still benefit from brand awareness on a global scale by associating with a club such as United. But in a world of 24 hour news and social media communications, are you prepared to take that risk?

This, the Marketing Week World Cup special, is full of lessons and case studies that could be an essential tool for you as you leverage the best out of your World Cup marketing strategies this summer. Have a great tournament.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here