I never, ever thought I would find myself writing about football. Rugby, maybe, but football? No. Not for me. And yet, here I am. Perhaps it's due to the fondness for the two countries I drew in our office sweepstake: Croatia and Iceland (26th of June is going to be a tough day for me). Perhaps the summer heat has gone to my head. Or perhaps it's due to the fact that I just can't seem to escape it. That's right, the World Cup is EVERYWHERE. Football is an international phenomenon that has taken over.
There is another national cultural phenomenon I have caved in to this year - Love Island. At several dinner parties last summer I had nothing to add to the conversation. I felt mugged off and a little prangy. So here I am, a Love Island watcher and footie spectator; a slave to British culture.
Culture is a dynamic process; it is constantly changing over time and, in the case of the Brits, can be idiosyncratic. Many brands recognise the impact that culture has on consumers’ decision-making style and produce real-time marketing and global campaigns off the back of it. Taking advantage of the feelings of national pride and euphoria associated with events like the World Cup can generate ideas for killer campaigns that provide return on investment. Some get it very wrong *cough Burger King cough*.
And yet, while I notice the games are on every screen across the capital, they are being shown in every pub on every corner and euphoria was displayed on every Instagram story in my feed on Monday night, there appears to be less of these World Cup-centric campaigns than in 2014.
Andrew Hughes believes this is due to brand transference; the marketing theory asserts that a consumer’s knowledge or feeling around a brand will transfer to the brand it’s linked with in an advertisement or marketing campaign. In a politically-sensitive and socially-conscious age, the association with “tainted” FIFA and Russia perhaps have Western companies cautious.
Companies are always looking for new and innovative ways to engage with their customers. In this act of cautiousness, brands are demonstrating just how in tune they are with consumers’ decision-making style; that today’s consumer is on the hunt for something authentic not tainted.
In this case, it’s the connection with tainted “brands” such as Russia and Fifa that has some Western companies cautious ahead of the World Cup. However, these associations haven’t proved a problem for brands from other parts of the world, such as Chinese companies Dalian Wanda, Hisense, Vivo and Mengniu Dairy, Qatar Airways, and Russia’s Gazprom, who have happily stepped in to fill the void. Russia is not an unknown quantity. Brands know the problematic transference issues involved with any connection to Russia, from Moscow’s meddling in foreign elections and the Syrian civil war to the state-sponsored doping system that saw Russian athletes banned from the 2016 and 2018 Olympics.