Football flops put pressure on brands

24 June 2014
LONDON: As England football prepares for its last engagement with the 2014 World Cup, brands are reassessing their own involvement with the national team and the tournament.

UK television viewers have been fed a "relentless" series of advertisements featuring top players according to the Daily Mirror. And fans angry at this "unwanted reminder" of the side's failure in Brazil are taking to social media to voice their discontent and putting pressure on brands to pull those ads.

Aside from the potential impact on individual brands, the England team's failure to get out of the group stages of the event will cost the UK economy £300m, on some estimates, because of forgone sales of food and drink, replica England football kit and lower rates for television advertising during matches.

"If England had gone through there would have been a lot of advertising money for retail, be it for pizza, barbecues, anything you can think of to entertain yourself," Chris Locke, group trading director of Starcom MediaVest Group, told the Guardian.

But those brands which hadn't already committed themselves to ads and which had "kept the budget to the side of the table will probably not spend that now," he added.

Others were more optimistic, arguing that the timing of games broadcast in the UK and the level of interest the tournament was generating meant that television advertising rates, at least, would remain high.

"The World Cup has already been doing bigger audiences than expected," noted Dave Mulrenan, head of press at media agency ZenithOptimedia UK, although he told Marketing Week that he did not believe that ITV, the UK's commercial channel sharing the broadcast rights with the BBC, had expected England to progress to the later stages in any case.

It was a view echoed by Jessica Ralph, broadcast account director at media buyers Total Media. "Everyone is very aware of England and their history … everyone will probably have prepared for the chances of them going out more than staying in," she said.

Some businesses have already reaped benefits, however, as the Office for National Statistics reported sales at sports shops were up 3.9% from April to May. And retail analysts IRI said sales of beer and cider had jumped 42% during the competition's first week.

Taking a longer view, Tyson Henly, former head of sponsorship at UEFA and head of international football at Fuse Sport and Entertainment, said brands sponsoring the England team would already be looking towards the next major tournament, the European Championships in 2016.

Data sourced from Daily Mirror, Sunday Times, Guardian, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff
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