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Is FIFA World Cup 2022 emerging as the new black for brands in India?

As per industry players in the sports marketing arena, the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 will see an increased brand awareness and Top-Of-Mind (TOM) recall of approximately 1.5x to 2.5x of a regular campaign for a sponsorship category

For several decades now, cricket has been the primary area of interest in terms of sponsorship rights in sports owing to its widespread audience, but the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 has seen ten Indian brands coming on board as ‘presented by’ sponsors on Viacom18’s Sports18 and JioCinema.

These brands include Mahindra, Visa, Cake Zone, Black & White, AM/NS India, ET Money, Amul, intel, SBI and Spartan Poker, accompanied by Byju’s - which is the official sponsor for the football tournament which will be taking place in Qatar between November 20 and December 18.

Speaking to BestMediaInfo.com, industry players from leading sports marketing agency wings emphasised that the brands with the sponsorship rights are likely to see 1.5x to 2.5x of brand awareness and top-of-mind recall as opposed to a regular campaign for their respective sponsorship category.

Sahil Shah

Commenting as to what’s in store for the global as well as Indian brands who have opted for ‘presented by’ sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup 2022, Sahil Shah, Managing Partner, WATConsult, said, “The dollar revenue businesses from India benefit the most from FIFA due to its global reach. On a wider spectrum, the global businesses obviously would pick up ‘presented by’ sponsorships with the scale of the tournament FIFA is currently at.”

“Besides the wide global reach, the tournament is also a great association for any brand who is looking at a lift in premium association measures as well,” he added.

Kumar Awanish

According to Kumar Awanish, Chief Growth Officer, Cheil India, India has traditionally been a cricket-loving nation, but football is also gaining a foothold and its popularity is not limited to certain states. “With the FIFA World Cup streaming, brands can definitely expect a massive reach.”

“It should be no surprise that brands looking for scale will scramble to associate themselves with the FIFA World Cup. It has traditionally been the turf of brands such as Coke and Adidas. For them, it is equivalent to a lifeline, but some new names like Byju’s and Kia Motors will also make a splash during the World Cup and will be visible there,” he added.

Jayen Mehta

Adding the marketer’s perspective to what is in store for brands during such regional sponsorship for the FIFA World Cup 2022, Jayen Mehta, Chief Operating Officer, Amul, said, “Heightened visibility on the tournament, which is considered as the mother of all football tournaments, catching the attention of Gen Z who swears by sports and football has been a growing sentiment in the country, of course, a lot after cricket.”

Mehta also emphasised that Amul has tied up with two of the most potent teams- Argentina and Portugal, and said, “We intend to leverage this association to further our Amul milk proposition of the world’s original energy drink.”

Further, Mehta also went on to add that since Amul has already associated with Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, the dairy co-operative society intends to run a visibility plan of their own across media and also on the main FIFA matches where they will be present as sponsors.

Santosh Navlani

According to Santosh Navlani, COO, ETMoney, “Football is one of the most efficient team sports in the world. The way each line-up from Goalkeeper to Defense to Midfield to Strikers have to work in tandem to create magical goals and a sense of achievement, ET Money's offerings are designed to weave the positive impact of different wealth products, be it Mutual funds or FD or NPS in a very unique manner to help Indians achieve their financial goals. So, there is a strong match between our brand promise and the fabric of the football game itself.”

“Secondly, Football also is watched, tracked, and discussed more by the audience that ET Money caters to, which is mid-income affluent, digital native Indians who are aspirational. Lastly, the structure of the football game which is 90-minute intense playtime, merges well with the emerging India's love for fast-paced, short-form sports like T20 Cricket,” he added.

Commenting on the brand objectives that the company eyes to meet as an associate sponsor of FIFA, Navlani said, “We have the opportunity to achieve multiple goals for our company, including brand awareness, brand association, and conveying our brand promise cohesively to our target demographic.”

As per an analysis of 100 sponsorships between 2020 and 2021 in seven markets across 20 industries carried out by Nielsen, the sponsorships drove an average 10% lift in purchase intent among the exposed fanbase.

Commenting on the industry expectations in terms of the viewership of the upcoming tournament, WATConsult’s Shah asserted that the viewership for FIFA World Cup has always been skewed towards large numbers of football followers that cut across age groups.

“What’s always interesting is that there are a lot of active viewers that get added to the fold every now and then. Plus, it’s still the viewers where the buying power is much higher, which in turn makes it a sought-after partnership for many brands,” he added.

Similarly, Cheil’s Awanish also emphasised that the FIFA World Cup is happening after the pandemic, so it will most likely be a visual treat and the tournament will see high viewership.

“The content lends itself beautifully to formats like highlights of the matches and excerpts from it. All of it is good news for brands, as they will have an audience that is glued to their screens, be it Television or Mobile, especially the demographic in the age group of 15-35 years and males from all across the country, but mainly dominated by the ones staying in the metros,” added Awanish.

As per Amul’s Mehta, FIFA has always been a much-awaited tournament whatever the schedule of matches and their timings.

“The good news is that this year a lot of the matches will be aired in what we call primetime in India. There may be some struggle for single TV homes but it should be well received by Gen Z for sure in whatever platform they choose to view it,” he said.

ETMoney’s Navlani also emphasised that the company aims to capitalise on India's growing interest in football and the games' primetime schedule. “Viacom 18 is eyeing 150 million viewers to watch football across all platforms. Football has gained a huge following over the years, especially among aspirational youth and millennials. Because this year's FIFA World Cup is bigger and better, we anticipate a significant increase in brand awareness, recall, and user base, as well as boost investing as a habit,” he said.

To keep the audience hooked to the screens, Sports18 – 1 and JioCinema kicked off with ‘FIFA World Cup 2022 Road To Qatar’, a 16-episode show profiling the 32 teams qualified for the World Cup.

The build-up programming includes on-field and off-field exploits of World Cup superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe and many more through shows like ‘Football Goal’D Super 16’ and ‘The Fantastic Lives of Footballers’.

Viacom18 Sports will provide hard-core football fans with a platform through original content pieces. ‘Flavours of Football in India’ will take viewers through unheard and extraordinary fan stories from football hotbeds of the country.

‘Football Adda’, a Bengali chat show around the FIFA World Cup, will give fans from the state a voice to back their favourite teams and players.

Original programming on the Viacom18 Sports network will also include pre-game and post-game shows offering a comprehensive preview and review of all 64 games with prominent World Cup heroes.

  As per the survey conducted by Nielsen, “Combined, sports activations are doing more than boosting brand awareness, they’re leading to higher conversion rates reflecting increased brand sponsorships following the global ad pullback in 2020 along with a high level of trust among fans with respect to sponsorships.”

While throwing light on some of the marketing objectives that the Indian brands are trying to achieve from sponsoring the once-in-four-year tournament, Shah said, “The mere association with FIFA is a great one for brands. Of course from a funnel POV, the awareness, TOM and consideration measures move significantly with a relatively premium audience.”

Commenting on Amul’s objectives for the international spectrum, Mehta said, “Amul has gone international several years ago and we have our own ways of creating a visibility footprint in whichever market we enter, but yes any global tournament helps position a brand at a global level and be seen as a force to reckon with on more markets than one.”

“Having said this, we are not global sponsors but are currently the regional sponsors for the tournament,” he added.

Furthermore, he also added that when it comes to Amul, at the moment it’s an India story from the presence on the tournament point-of-view, but the association with Argentina and Portugal is something that Amul will popularise across their core international markets as well.

Additionally, ETMoney’s Navlani also stated that there is a natural correlation between the viewers of the FIFA World Cup and ET Money’s target audience. 

“The aspirational and middle-income affluent segment of Indian society loves watching football, and ET Money as a progressive brand helps in simplifying the financial journey of such individuals. With the aim of helping Indians achieve their financial goals, we believe the set-up of football, where players are aligned to achieve a common goal, embodies our brand promise,” he added.

Moreover, he also went on to highlight that in terms of ad-slots, ETMoney is targeting for 25 seconds for the story setting, 20 seconds for building sustenance and 15 seconds for frequency.

“With this perfect ad mix and presence across all advertisement platforms, we are aiming to reinforce our message and ensure maximum brand awareness,” he added.

Moreover, Cheil’s Awanish also went on to comment on the aspect of brand awareness and brand recall which will be built during the tournament and said, “It will be almost 1.5X to 2.5X of a regular campaign for a sponsorship category.”

However, the ad spot is a different ball game in football, unlike cricket, as the ad break does not happen every 2-3 minutes, he added.

Out of the ten Indian brands who have acquired the ‘partnered by’ sponsor rights for the tournament, Black & White and Spartan Poker deal in alcoholic beverages and online card games like Poker, respectively. Both these brands are not allowed to advertise directly on the platforms.

Adding the blocks on the marketing side, WATConsult’s Shah said that such associations are much more efficient for companies like these because sponsorships are high decibel in less time and thus bring more to the table as compared to other ways of driving recall like influencer marketing and the larger branded content push.

Striking a similar note, Cheil’s Awanish furthermore stated, “You go where your audience goes and precisely that’s where their audience is.”

“Food and beverage brands have been major spenders at the World Cup since a lot of events, parties, and family meetings are centred around it,” he added.

Citing an example, Awanish said, “AB inBev has been one of the oldest sponsors of the cup, thus alcohol brands associating themselves with the World Cup is nothing new.”


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