An early exit from the World Cup would leave a fair few marketers with shattered brand plans

As I write this, the French football team are sulking and England are on the verge of another year of World Cup hurt. Very predictable brand behaviour, some might say.

By the time you read this, I very much hope that England have reignited our dreams by progressing to the knock-out stages. An early exit would not only depress the nation but would leave a fair few marketers with shattered brand plans. Things have come to a parlous state when the emergency budget is followed by the possibility of having been eliminated from theWorld Cup.

Chancellor George Osborne is – not without reason – doing a great job of blaming the previous regime for his deficit cuts, but I doubt whether Fabio Capello could blame Sven-Goran Eriksson and others if it all goes wrong. Having banned the Wags from South Africa, he can’t even blame them, though I am sure he could argue that John Terry’s dalliance with Vanessa Perroncel did little to help pre-tournament morale, even before Rio Ferdinand’s training injury.

A couple of years ago, my firm went head-to-head with a competitor in a match to secure the England team marketing rights for one of our brands. We lost in a penalty shoot-out after extra time to a team funded by foreign money. I took it personally at the time and ranted like Wayne Rooney about our lack of financial support when we needed it most.

“An early exit from the World Cup would leave a fair few marketers with shattered brand plans”

The World Cup matches so far are easing the pain of my failure to secure those rights. I may yet be the unexpected winner in this game, looking on in delight as my competitor seeks to clear mountains of tarnished England World Cup branded stock over the coming months.

It raises an interesting question as to the value of official sponsorship. I sense an on-going change in consumer attitude here. Customers are less likely to remember whether you had the official logo on your pack, rather judging you on the creativity of your activation plans.

Arguably, it is far easier to succeed when you are not bound by officialdom. Great marketing is about tapping into the consumer mood and being one of the crowd. It is easier to accomplish this by joining fans on the terraces rather than eating prawn sandwiches and checking the size of your logo in the corporate suites. Just try getting FIFA to sign off on your free vuvuzelaon-pack promotion. I don’t think so.

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