By: Greg Goldring, Senior Director of Sports & Entertainment | Editor: Will Ober, Manager, Sports Marketing
After a four-year wait, it’s finally here. Tomorrow, the FIFA World Cup™ kicks off in Russia with a matchup between the host nation and Saudi Arabia at 10 am CT. Rivaled only by the Olympics on a global scale, this quadrennial event pits the top 32 countries of the world against one another in the world’s most popular sport.
We’re helping you prepare for the World Cup with the download on sponsorships, players to watch, where to watch, and more.
First group matches: June 14-19
Second group matches: June 19-24
Third group matches: June 25-28
Round of 16: June 30-July 3
Quarterfinals: July 6-7
Semifinals: July 10-11
Third-place match: July 14
Final: July 15
PARTNERS & SPONSORSHIPS
While the tournament kicks off this week, each of FIFA’s and FIFA’s World Cup™ partners have been striking deals, developing creative, and producing content for well over a year preparing to unleash it the coming days.
As with any major sponsorship, consumers should expect to see new creative launched on TV, in-stores, and on all of their second screen devices from the FIFA’s main partners. The primary FIFA sponsors with global rights are listed below; however, each market may have regional partnerships which often cost the brand significantly less than a global partnership.
Having the right to market teams and utilize FIFA marks and intellectual property during the FIFA World Cup gives brands, at the very least, a standard rights package including the following assets as they market to consumers in over 200 countries around the world:
– The use of the FIFA and FIFA World Cup™ Official Marks
– Exposure in and around the stadium, in all Official FIFA publications and on its official website
– Acknowledgement of their support through an extensive FIFA World Cup sponsor recognition program
– Ambush marketing protection
– Hospitality opportunities
– Direct advertising and promotional opportunities; preferential access to FIFA World Cup™ broadcast advertising
Official marks and intellectual property include not only logos, clips, trophies, and mascots, but also prohibits “ambush marketing” partners who want to ride the wave of the World Cup from using terms such as FIFA, World Cup, Russia 2018, and a long list of variations.
All that said, there are still massive stars participating in the World Cup who have sponsorship deals with brands/companies that are NOT World Cup partners and this certainly does not prevent them from putting creative out during the World Cup, they just have to get more “creative.”
Here are a few examples of brands that have launched campaigns featuring top talent despite not being an official partner of the FIFA World Cup™.
Wish –An online ecommerce site, signed Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Tim Howard (USA), Pogba (France), Neymar (Brazil), and Robin Van Persie (Netherlands) to push out creative during this World Cup. In very clever fashion, neither Buffon, Howard, nor Van Persie are actually participating in the World Cup as their countries’ teams did not qualify; however, they are still highly recognizable.
Hugo Boss – Signed four players from four different countries (UK, Spain, Brazil and Germany) and positioned them as a united front to push their well-known men’s fragrance, BOSS Bottled.
MasterCard – Enlisted Neymar Jr., and Lionel Messi, arguably two of the world’s top players, as ambassadors for a program where MC donates meals to 10,000 children for each goal scored, never mentioning any protected terms.
Deadpool 2 – The movie even enlisted the help of David Beckham, another globally recognized superstar, to attract attention with the movie coinciding with the kick off to the World Cup.
TEAMS & PLAYERS TO WATCH
If you’re a casual “football” fan, you may not be familiar with players outside of the big names like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. We’ve got you covered.
Here are a few players on the top-ranked squads to help get you in the know heading into the tournament:
- Germany – Manuel Neuer, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos
- Brazil – Neymar Jr., Philipe Coutinho, Thiago Silva, Willian Borges da Silva
- Argentina – Gonzalo Higuaín, Sergio Aguero
- France – Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Raphaël Varane, Olivier Giroud, Hugo Lloris
- England – Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy
- Belgium – Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne
And, here are a few young guns/possible break out stars to keep an eye on:
- Kylian Mbappe – France – Paris St Germain
- Timo Werner – Germany – RB Leipzig
- Kevin De Bruyne – Belgium – Man City
- Ivan Rakitic – Croatia – FC Barcelona
- Christian Eriksen – Denmark – Tottenham
- Sadio Mane – Senegal – Liverpool
WHERE TO WATCH
The World Cup will be broadcast exclusively on FOX Sports, but below are a few other great places to follow all the action.
- B/R Football Instagram & Twitter
- The Players Tribune US & Global
- Copa 90
- Men In Blazers & Podcast