Is it a good idea for companies to promote themselves during the World Cup?

I was asked an interesting question in response to my last post on the PR pitfalls of the England football team. It was:

what’s your advice and thoughts on companies promoting themselves during the footy, particularly trying to trade off the back of it and the tide of patriotism?

I think it’s a tricky one which is why I’ve given it its own post for a response.

If a company already has an affiliation with the England squad (Nationwide and Umbro are obvious examples) then of course they are going to shout about it as loud as they can for as long as they can. It will represent a significant ongoing investment for them that they need to see a healthy return from.

Companies trying to “piggy-back” football’s current popularity need to exercise more caution. For instance, they need to think about whether they will drop the campaign if/when the England team gets knocked out of the tournament and – more importantly – whether the nation will notice and perceive that company to be disloyal as a result?

In my mind, there are three distinct sets of people to market to during the World Cup: die-hard football fans who live for the game and know every statistic that exists; people with temporary football fever who will watch every England game but only for the next four weeks; and everyone else who is desperately trying to avoid the whole event. Pick the wrong target market or neglect your key group and it’ll be money down the drain.

That said, topicality is always one of the key ingredients for any big news story so if you’ve got some money put aside in your marketing budget and you’re feeling game, give it a go.

Just make sure you can find your own angle – I’ve recently seen far too many companies running “your money back if England win the World Cup” promotions. Whoever did it first had a great idea (although it does make me feel like they are pretty confident that we won’t win…), it’s just a shame that it’s lost its edge because of copy cats.

That’s my view on the topic. What do you think?

P.S. I’ll try and avoid too many more football-related posts so I don’t neglect my third group!

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