Carli Gooch, Pinterest UK Agency Lead explores how the clash between the men’s FIFA World Cup and the festive season may impact the media landscape, and how brands can navigate this disruption.

There’s no denying that the final stretch of the year has always been a busy time across the media landscape, with everyone fighting for consumer attention. After months of planning, brands release their big media spends and kick off the festive season with unmissable campaigns as early as October, hoping to ignite brand love like never before.

This year, on Pinterest, we’re seeing people getting excited to celebrate more moments of all sizes.1 However, pairing this feeling with the calendar clash of the festive season and FIFA World Cup, brands have found themselves torn about where to focus their upcoming efforts.

Instead of doubting at the crossroads, this is an opportunity for brands to be creative and – more importantly – targeted, to cut through the noise in Q4 and ultimately make their media spend worth their investment. So how can they ensure success this season regardless of what moment they choose to invest in?

Know thy audience

For brands, self-awareness and knowledge of their target audience are perhaps the most important elements when at this crossroads of not knowing which ‘celebration’ to chase after.

Some brands will more naturally fit into one of these categories. For example, home and interiors might see better results with a Christmas campaign, with festive gatherings presenting the perfect opportunity to suggest a mini-room makeover or tablescaping. But many will overlap. Food and drink brands thrive from celebration and togetherness, two feelings which stem from both sport moments and the festive season.

More than meets the eye

Choosing a Q4 moment to buy into isn’t a one-and-done exercise.

For the World Cup, brands may carefully consider before associating themselves too closely with one team. This is because the audience’s interest in football-related activity can drop as soon as that team is knocked out of the tournament. With sport having the ability to bring people together, it is certainly not a moment to be dismissed as it allows brands to incorporate themselves into these special moments, strengthening their emotional connection with consumers.

In contrast, the holiday season is like a trusted friend, which you know is always going to be there. But its familiarity might cause it to inadvertently take a back seat this year, especially if those banking on the World Cup use celebrity talent to communicate their brand proposition. With this in mind, brands focusing on the most wonderful time of the year will need to rethink the traditional tinsel and snow to ensure the desired brand affinity doesn’t melt away.

No doubt, some brands will be bold enough to ride the cultural wave of both, targeting their different audiences. These cultural moments may influence one another, with an increased feeling of national pride roaring from the sport. Will football be driving home for Christmas?

We know that Pinners (users of Pinterest) want brands to help them make the season fun and even more special this year,2 so a mix of football and jubilant festivity may be the winning combination for some and the perfect time to inspire consumers with a football gift they could put under the tree.

Platform with a guarantee

It is important for advertisers to choose a platform where people spend quality time engaging with content, to ensure campaign assets are seen and valued. From internal Pinterest research, we know that those brands who run always-on advertising across festive season moments have 5x conversion rate versus episodic advertisers, with those advertisers who reach consumers early seeing better results.3

This is particularly relevant as we know festive gifters are likely to start shopping in October or earlier, and those who start early also spend more,4 so running full-funnel activity will help brands reach every consumer jumping on the spending bandwagon for the festive season and the World Cup. 

Data and analytics as a crystal ball

Analytics and insights are powerful tools in both foresight and hindsight. Tapping into cultural insight data, such as Pinterest trends, can power brand content by making it contextually relevant, and be used as a tracker to see how the different elements and assets are performing on an ongoing basis, to then make agile but informed decisions. This is especially important when so much can weigh on Q4 performance. 

Inspiration to action

Social commerce continues to dominate consumer’s shopping habits. Today’s connected buyers have an ‘always shopping’ mindset, where purchasing is an experience rather than a transaction. We also know from our platform that 97% of the top 1,000 gifting searches on Pinterest are not item- or product-specific. With global social commerce sales expected to triple by 2025,5 brands should embrace this new opportunity to fit their products into the consumer’s purchase journey, where the inspiration to action happens all in one place.

Competition during this season will be fierce, with brands putting their best festive foot forward to create lasting memories with their consumers during these two key calendar moments. However, it’s important to remain agile and culturally sensitive, as not everyone follows football and not all families celebrate Christmas.

A creative and targeted approach, underpinned by data and analytics, can be the key to success for those brands looking to build brand affinity during these busy months.


1. Reach3, Path to Purchase Study, DE, March 2022. Monthly Pinterest users vs. non-Pinners.

2. Sparkler, UK, 2021 Christmas study, April 2021. Among monthly Pinners, comparison against non-Pinners who say the same about competitive social media platforms.

3. Pinterest internal data, global. Always-on = live with media for entire festive season (01/09/20–31/12/20); Episodic = only live with media from 25/11/20–31/12/20.

4. Pinterest internal search data, UK, ‘2021/02/01’ to ‘2021/10/03’. Index is based on the weekly searches for holiday gifts compared to average searches for the period and adjusted for overall Pinterest Seasonality and growth.

5. Why the future of shopping is set for a social revolution, Accenture, January 2022.