It Came, We Saw, Spain Conquered

July 13, 2010

It was a funny World Cup. An all- European final, again, which is good for European football I suppose, but it didn’t make for a thrilling match did it?

At the beginning of this campaign I wondered about the sense of brands sponsoring individuals and teams at events like these, not knowing how they would perform or what the return would be. Now it seems that, in many cases, my concern was warranted.

Some of the biggest footballing nations bowed out early. France and Italy left in the group stages – France in a blaze of embarassment, and Italy….. well, they’re a bit old now, and not very good anymore. How the mighty have fallen; France and Italy were the finalists in 2006.

England lost 4-1 in the round of 16 to a vastly superior Germany. Three of the world’s top paid footballers were in that England team; John Terry, Frank Lampard, and Steven Gerrard. None of them performed at a really top level. Nor did Kaka, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Wayne Rooney, all of whom hold massive endorsement deals with either Nike or Adidas. In fact, the winner of the Golden Boot was Diego Forlán and I can’t find him on the top 50. By my reckoning the only player in the top ten who really performed at world-beater level was Spain’s Xavi, and he’s number ten on the list.

So what does this mean for the brands that sponsored them? In some cases, it was simply a waste of money, but for some, their deals have proved embarrassing.

Immediately in the wake of the French debacle, which their sports minister Roselyne Bachelot called “a moral disaster for French football”, sponsors started pulling activity and making threats. Financial services company Credit Agricole pulled a TV campaign featuring the team that was supposed to run until the end of June, and fast food giant Quick have said they will stop using an ad featuring Nicolas Anelka. Adidas have claimed to be “appalled and saddened” by what happened (but have retained their sponsorship, which is due to expire next year anyway). Utilities company GDF Suez says their sponsorship is now under review, despite the fact that their current deal is in place until after the 2014 World Cup.

So, is it a risk worth taking? There can only be one ultimate winner at the World Cup, but this time round there have been an unusual number of shocking disappointments and some downright embarrassments. In light of the economic realities being faced by the brands and companies aligning themselves with these properties, the question is whether or not these were risks worth taking.

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2 Responses to “It Came, We Saw, Spain Conquered”

  1. Jo Mackenzie said

    There is no excusing the behaviour of the French this World Cup – arrogant, over-paid individuals behaving like petulant teenagers who have been told they can’t go to the party!

    I will also not argue that these individuals are grotesquely overpaid.

    That said, it’s a bit tough berating the players for their performance in one tournament. Admittedly, this year’s competition has seen a surprisingly large number of bad performances from players who should have done better, Rooney, Torres, Van Persie to name but a few.

    However, these individuals had until 8 weeks ago performed at the top of their game every week for the previous 9 months. Rooney was the second highest scorer in the Premier League with 26 goals to Drogba’s 29, Torres was in 7th place.

    The huge sums of money granted to these players is not on the basis of the few high profile games that come around every 4 years but because they put in weekly performances that appeal to millions of fans across the globe and feature on billions of items of merchandise that is sold by the clubs every year.

    Yes they should have played better in this World Cup but I’m sure a few of them will come back to the Premier League with something to prove next season.

  2. theinfluentials said

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not berating the players. If anything, I feel for them, particularly those from the Premiership who undoubtedly have extremely demanding schedules to deal with all season. No, I’m simply questioning the wisdom of brands gambling vast sums of money on campaigns revolving around the individuals and teams at the World Cup, when they don’t know how valuable the associations will end up being.

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