Despite chronically low expectations for England and being kicked out in the first round, brands have been relentlessly cashing in on the World Cup fever. Brands of all shapes and sizes have, understandably, jumped on the football bandwagon to get whatever exposure they can for the most hyped sporting event in the world.
The World Cup wouldn’t be what it is without the backing of big brands to provide crucial funding and sponsorship during the tournament. Global giants in the sports, tech, food and drink markets assign huge portions of their advertising, marketing and PR budget for their campaigns to play out on the world stage. However, it seems not everyone is as prepared as you would assume they might be; M&S, the official sponsors for the England team’s non-sport clothing were heavily criticised after not having anywhere near enough stock to meet demand after our brave lads were pictured in their official grey M&S slim-line suits. M&S seemed almost surprised by the interest and apologised to fans assuring them the suit would be available later in the year (when the hype has undoubtedly died down) surely a great opportunity missed?
It’s not only the corporate players who’ve had four years to sculpt their big footie campaigns, smaller brands and local businesses want a piece of the action and have opportunistically found all kinds of wild and wacky ways to associate themselves with the games.
While some have found imaginative and clever ways to get into the #brazilnuts spirit other’s have missed the mark and reverted to old-fashioned, out-dated stereotypes leaving the media groaning over passé press releases and ill-advised stunts.
Here are a few who’ve been given the red card and sent off the pitch in shame;
· Delta, after tweeting an image of a giraffe to represent Ghana, despite the fact that giraffes do not live in the African country
· Asda, for making a wearable England flag outfit featuring a pointy white hood which spectators quickly pointed out resembled the Ku Klux Klan cloak
· Proctor and Gamble, who were forced to remove their World Cup packaged Ariel Washing Power from the shelves after customers noticed it had certain Nazi connotations
· Paddy Power, for tweeting an image of ‘C’mon England PP’ carved into the Brazilian rainforest, even though it turned out to be an admittedly tasteless ‘joke’
· Omega 3 Supplement Brand, for encouraging women not to be ‘a World Cup widow and use the extra time to your advantage by bagging Brazillian- style booty’ – rather beautifully described in the Evening Standard as a ‘merger of casual sexism and sheer WTF-ness’ of promotional gaffes (Evening Standard, Thurs 19th June 2014)
So while we tread carefully to avoid the obvious beer guzzling lads and their spoil-sport WAG clichés, if you are climbing aboard the World Cup gravy train make sure you put your best foot forward with your star striker and try not to score a spectacular PR own goal.