The FIFA World Cup is unofficially the world's largest sporting event. It's also one of the world's biggest marketing opportunities. Featuring 32 national soccer teams, it captivates billions of people across the globe during its month-long run. And, as we all are aware, the 2018 event is being held in Russia.

There are only thirty-two teams and in fact, only eight teams have ever won a World Cup (none of which were from North or Central America, Africa, Asia or the Middle East). So, is it really global? Oh yes! The fact that countries such as the USA or Italy did not qualify for 2018, does not mean that there is a huge marketing potential in these countries.

Given the global focus on this sporting event, many official sponsors and other companies will attempt to capture the attention of those following along. FIFA has official sponsors in three tiers: FIFA Partners, World Cup sponsors, and National Supporters (Russian companies).

It’s not too late to watch what happens in the last two weeks of these championships and plan for official sponsorship in 2022 (Qatar – in November to avoid the July heat) or 2026 (North America - Canada; Mexico; United States).

A couple of things to consider on official sponsorship if you’re playing the long-term game. Qatar has already received much criticism, and the country is tiny by all standards, so don’t expect there to be the same atmosphere and country interest as previous years. That said, other nations/cities close by (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain) will all probably provide great staging posts for those going to the games and with larger populations will most probably offer great marketing opportunities.

If you’re looking at 2022 then there are two changes to previous FIFA years. Firstly, there will be 48 teams participating (up from 32) and secondly, this is the first time it has been hosted by more than one country (it will be held over three countries). Seeing as there are 2,251 miles (3,622 km) between Canada and Mexico, marketing strategies need to be well thought out logistically and possibly over multiple languages (English, Spanish and French to cover official languages of the host nations).

Back to 2018. Let’s face it, there is a lot of interest around the Round 16, Quarter, Semi and Final games. While you really should have been planning your marketing in advance, there are some amazing last-minute guerilla opportunities.

Tips for effective marketing & social media during the World Cup:

1.    Unless you are an official sponsor, do not use any of the official marks, logos, photos or FIFA names/wording.

2.    Best to not use the official #WorldCup hashtag. Each game is likely to have its own unofficial hashtag (like #BRAvs#MEX). That will be a good way to stay on top of the action.

3.    Be helpful to your audience. Send them links, and otherwise alert them to when the important matches are on.

4.    Relate the teams and games to other hooks in your marketing.

5.    Assume it's safe to retweet and reply to official FIFA accounts to follow along.

6.    Use creative approaches to multimedia that can drum up excitement among your audience – only use images and video that you have the rights to use.

7.    Follow other brands to learn best practices and see how they are participating without running afoul of FIFA rules.

8.    Have fun with it – this is a game!

Whether you are marketing around the World Cup or not, consider that sports unite players, spectators, and supporters. It helps us make friends and acquaintances just by using a single phrase - "Do you what to join us?"

Interested in other sales and marketing strategy? We recommend (well we would) – Exactly Where You Want to Be – the best-selling book. Available on Amazon and at all good bookshops (if bookstores still exist where you live).

If you’re interested in Middle East targeted marketing – then contact our ME team.


If you want to get your international sales and marketing teams aligned – whatever country focus you have – then contact us in California.