The beautiful game of football is at is best when the gentle balance of fans, players and sponsors reaches a natural equilibrium.
I can’t help feel sorry for Brazil, they are the most-crowned FIFA World Cup champions and have been awarded the hosting responsibilities of this illustrious competition for the second (ed.) time but the social unrest in the country threatens to overshadow what should have been their day, their chance to showcase the beautiful game.
Let’s think about this from a marketing perspective.
If I were a big brand sponsor of the FIFA World Cup I would be more than a bit nervous about what is going on…
- Fans are caring less about the national team that has slipped to a record-low of 22nd in the FIFA league tables
- The population as a whole is protesting against the financial burden that will be put on a nation struggling to look after the populous as it is
- The boom years have flattened out a little, not to say they are not still in a period of fantastic growth but Brazil’s economy has a lot of expectation on its shoulders and civil unrest will not be helping to achieve any of this expectation
- The response by the police was initially pretty extreme, since word got out about their early reactions they have taken a more measured approach but how does this bode for hundreds of thousands of fans from 32 nations next year after a few caipirinhas
- What happens if the protestors start targeting those pumping money into such tournaments, i.e. the sponsors?
These are big issues that would be running through my head if I were a brand strategist or sponsorship director right now.
There does not seem to be any need for FIFA, or indeed the IOC, to consider taking their $Billion juggernauts away from Brazil, but consideration of the people as a whole needs to be addressed.
Personally I think that brands will end up doing a lot more engagement activities, not just for fun PR spots in ads but that rally people together for the good of the various Brazilian communities.
Think town tidies, school building, sport organisation and even education or health initiatives.
What they need to install is a sense of thoughtfulness, a feeling that the brands are not just sponsoring the biggest sports tournament in the world but they are taking responsibility for what is left behind after the posters and paper flags have been cleared away.
Brands take note: Do things for the better, not the Blatter.
Let’s make the beautiful game beautiful again.