It has been well documented that Fifa struggled to attract new sponsors in the run-up to the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Since 2016, all of the deals signed by the international governing body have been with brands headquartered in China, Russia, Qatar and Egypt, suggesting that western brands might have grown wary of the bribery and vote-buying scandals that have dogged Fifa, and are, for now, staying clear of a tainted association.
However, for the national soccer associations, it was business as usual, as brands sought to associate themselves with the teams competing at a national level for the 21st edition of the tournament.
Many of the brands sponsoring soccer associations at a national level have had deals in place since 2015, when the qualifying campaign for this World Cup started. The qualification period provides sponsors with heightened points of activation in the international breaks that are sandwiched between domestic league matches.
With those international breaks lasting no longer than two weeks at a time, it can be difficult for sponsors to maintain interest and relevance, as the vast majority of soccer fans are focused on their club teams. This made the months and weeks leading up to the main event in Russia a crucial time for federation sponsors to activate partnerships.
Some sponsors took a gamble on qualification, but ultimately missed out on the main event when the national team failed to qualify. Failure to qualify for the World Cup could potentially have cost soccer associations millions in lost revenues as they are placed in a weaker position when it comes to negotiating new deals, as well as renewals with existing partners.
For example, in November last year, four-time winners Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958. It has been reported in the Italian press that this could cost the federation between €20 million ($23.53 million) and €25 million ($29.41 million) in total revenue, with a proportion of this coming from the inevitable slump in the shirt sales that were expected during the tournament, resulting in fewer royalties from kit supplier Puma.
ADIDAS EDGES OUT NIKE AS LEADING KIT SUPPLIER
In the kit supply market for teams competing at the World Cup, it’s business as usual, with Adidas and Nike leading the way. Collectively, the two brands account for 22 of the 32 kit supplier deals in place (69 per cent) for the tournament. Puma occupies third spot with four deals (13 per cent), followed by New Balance with two deals (6 per cent) and Errea, Hummel, Uhlsport and Umbro all with one deal each (3 per cent).
The two leading brands seek quality, as well as quantity, in their deals, supplying kits for eight of the top 10-ranked nations at the tournament using the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking*. However, Adidas and Nike also have deals in place with South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Russia, the four lowest-ranked nations at the tournament. In this instance the quality of the national team is not the influencing factor: instead, it is the population of each country that attracts the brands, offering a large target market with a total combined population of 354.9 million between the four nations.
TOTAL POPULATION ACROSS DEALS
Taking the total population of each nation into consideration and linking them to the kit supplier deals enables us to gauge the size of the market to which each brand is selling. For example, Adidas has deals in place with 12 nations at the World Cup, and the combined total population of those nations is 852.9 million, resulting in an average population of 71.1 million per deal. This compares with Italian brand Errea, which only has one deal in place, with Iceland. The Nordic island nation is the smallest country ever to have qualified for a World Cup, with a population of just over 330,000.
AVERAGE POPULATION PER DEAL
COCA-COLA, WITHIN AN ARMS REACH OF DESIRE
The national associations involved in the World Cup have signed a total of 386 sponsorship deals with 324 brands, and even with the kit supplier brands included, Coca-Cola is still the leading national association sponsor at the tournament. The global drinks brand has deals with 13 of the 32 federations and accounts for just over 3 per cent of all national deals analysed. These are spread across five continents and complement the brand’s deal with Fifa as a top-tier official partner of the governing body.
If the kit supplier brands are removed from the equation, Coca-Cola is followed by Movistar, the Spanish telecommunications brand and Samsung, the Korean consumer electronics brand. Movistar has four deals in place with Spanish-speaking national associations (Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Spain), while Samsung has three deals, with Costa Rica, Germany and Uruguay, but none with its domestic association of Korea.
Coca-Cola, Movistar and Samsung are three of the 23 brands that have a deal in place with more than one of the national federations at the World Cup. The remaining 301 brands all have a singular deal in place.
BEVERAGES AND FINANCIAL SERVICES LEAD THE WAY
From the 23 industries accounted for across the national association deals, it is beverages and financial services that rank in joint first place with 50 deals (13 per cent) each. Australia, Iran and Switzerland are the only three World Cup federations that do not have a beverages sponsor. Sixteen federations have more than one beverages sponsor and in the majority of cases this is split between one non-alcohol and one alcohol sponsor. The 50 beverages deals comprise 32 non-alcohol brands and 18 alcohol brands, 17 of which are in the beer sector. The leading beverages brands include Coca-Cola, Carlsberg and Pepsi.
A total of 27 of the 32 national associations have at least one financial services sponsor and 17 of these have more than one from the industry. Within financial services, the banking sector makes up 23 deals, followed by insurance and pensions with 16 and credit cards with five. Allianz, the German insurance brand, is the only brand from the financial services industry that has deals in place with more than one federation (Colombia and Portugal).
The remaining industries include clothing and accessories with 41 deals (10.6 per cent), weighted with the 32 kit supplier deals, retail with 30 deals (7.8 per cent) and the travel industry with 29 deals (7.5 per cent), 16 of which are in the airline sector.
The forecast for global advertising spend surrounding the World Cup is an estimated $2.4 billion according to international research company Zenith. Of this figure, $835 million is expected to come from China, despite the national team failing to qualify. The influx of Chinese investment can also be seen at national association level, with some of the larger World Cup associations signing regional deals with Chinese brands.
Since March 2018, the federations of Portugal and Argentina have each signed up four new sponsors from China. A major influencing factor for brands here will be access to the collective image rights of the national team players, including the two leading stars going into the tournament, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi.
Elsewhere, the French Football Federation signed its first regional deal with Vatti, the Chinese home appliance manufacturer in March 2018. Under the agreement, the brand will run promotional campaigns using the image of the French team in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.
Sportcal subscribers can read more about the tournament sponsors at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in the Sportcal Sponsorship Rights Holder Profile by clicking here.
*FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking figures taken from the 7 June 2018.
^Total population figures taken from the World Bank and the Office for National Statistics in the UK.