Other retailers should follow John Lewis’ lead when it comes to World Cup marketing

The World Cup starts today but most of the retailers are conspicuous by their absence in talk about marketing running up to the competition. 


A quick look at Marketing Week’s blog around the event finds lots of activity from beer brands and obviously Nike and Adidas. There are dramatic spots from Beats and Samsung, but not a lot from the retail world.

It is supermarkets and electronics retailers that are expected to benefit most from the World Cup. Figures from Conlumino estimate that UK shoppers will spend £814m before and during the games in Brazil.

Of that £359m is expected to go on new TVs, radios and speakers. A further £271m will be spent on snacks and drinks and the rest on souvenirs.

Yet their advertising thus far has been barely noticeable.

Sure Aldi has done a version of its add featuring Graham Taylor and Dixons has been running its football-themed campaign to get people to buy flashy new TVs to watch the games on. There are also some fairly creative in-store displays in the supermarkets, from Pringles cans designed to represent the Brazilian flag to boxes of Coke laid out to look like a sofa.

Yet little of this has an overriding theme beyond trying to flog some discounted beer and crisps to football fans.

There is a bigger opportunity here for retailers.

As with any big event it makes sense to have a strategy in place and a central theme to work around. This is where John Lewis has come into its own.

This year it has launched a campaign “Get Closer to the Action” that includes elements designed both for the tournament and the rest of the summer. It is clearly hoping to cash in on the tech aspect and boost sales of TVs and sound systems in particular, although there is a push on fashion and home as well.

The campaign includes in-store material at point-of-sale and in the windows, social media activity, a 16-page catalogue and app featuring the products it wants to push and an online hub that features product stories and offers. There will also be press ads showing off those products.

This isn’t a huge-scale campaign a la its Christmas or 150th anniversary push. The opportunity around the World Cup isn’t that big.

However, it does unite all its activity under one clear idea that goes across channels and ad formats and (it hopes) will ensure consumers think of it. It already seems to be working.

The latest weekly sales figures from the department store show its large and small electricals showing “great growth” in the seven days to 31 May. Vision in particular performed well, up 47 per cent, while audio sales were up 53 per cent.

That is well ahead of total sales increases last week, which stood at 17 per cent.

Even if retailers do just want to shift a few more pints of beer and crisp multipacks over the next few weeks taking a lesson out of John Lewis’ book will help. A central theme that runs across stores and social media and ties all those promotions and offers together is key.

Who knows, if England manage to make it past the group stage there might even be a bigger opportunity to boost sales around the World Cup than any of us think.


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