FIFA currently has been able to get seven so-called Partners for the World Cup in Russia. The Premium category is thus almost fully booked, as a maximum of eight companies can be included. Together with the second level of FIFA’s sponsorship concept, they are allowed (among other things) to advertise on the perimeters of the World Cup stadiums. We explain who’s behind the companies, how long they’ve been working with FIFA, and what special marketing campaigns they’ve launched in the World Cup.
- 2017 sales: 21 billion euros
- 2017 sales in Germany: 7.5 billion euros
- Number of employees: Roughly 57,000
The world’s second-largest (after Nike) sports brand Adidas has already been a FIFA partner for more than 40 years. The company has provided the official World Cup match ball since 1970, and has been listed as a “steady partner” since the 1998 World Cup. The business with soccer has relatively declined for Adidas, as CEO Kasper Rorsted explains in an interview with the newspaper “Handelsblatt.” “The business with runners and fitness enthusiasts has seen stronger growth in recent years.”
Nevertheless, Adidas expected a lot from the World Cup: Shortly before the beginning of the games, CEO Kasper Rorsted already explained in a talk with Bloomberg that the record value of 2.1 billion euros in revenue at the last World Cup will be surpassed this year, even though Italy and the Netherlands didn’t qualify. Twelve teams were outfitted by Adidas; with Germany, Spain, and Argentina, Adidas also had three favorites in its ranks. In the meantime, however, everyone has been eliminated. Roland Auschel said at ISPO Digitze that the sporting goods manufacturer did not like the German end in particular. According to the German newspaper "Handelsblatt", Adidas loses 40 million euros after the German elimination.
Adidas does have to fight in the World Cup country of Russia, however. The company had to close more than 100 stores in 2017. The reason: an eleven-percent drop in sales. This is mainly due to the fact that the rural areas in the host country are becoming poorer and poorer, explains Rorsted. But he also emphasizes that the Russian market remains important for Adidas. The 700 employees at the Russian headquarters in Moscow had just recently built a new office building.
Special marketing promotion for the World Cup: Shortly before the beginning of the World Cup, Adidas launched it major campaign. The “Create the answer” spot features 56 testimonials, among them superstars like Lionel Messi, Mohammed Salah, Luis Suarez, Zinedine Zidane, and even Mesut Özil. The campaign message: Athletes can create something of their own without a script.
- 2017 sales: 35 billion dollars
- Turnover in Germany: 37 million hectoliters
- 2018 brand equity: Close to 80 billion dollars (14th most valuable brand)*
Coca-Cola’s official sponsorship of the World Cup began in 1978. It’s been a “steady partner” since then. The company has also been represented with perimeter advertising at every World Cup since 1950.
Special marketing promotion for the World Cup: Since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Coca-Cola has sent the World Cup trophy around the world as part of the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour. This year, the trophy toured through a total of 91 cities in 51 countries.
In addition to TV spots as part of the “Being Ready” marketing campaign, Coca-Cola is once again providing special edition beverage cans. In Germany, the company had the 23 players of the national team, as well as national coach Joachim Löw, depicted on its cans. A special TV spot has also been produced for Germany.
- 2017 sales: 18.36 billion dollars
- Brand equity in 2018: 145 billion dollars (7th most valuable brand in the world)*
Visa has been the official payment partner of FIFA since 2007.
Special marketing promotion for the World Cup: The company is sending Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the World Cup in Russia as a spokesmodel. Visa is activating Ibrahimovic to advertise for its touch-free credit card payment. The “S” in Visa has been replaced with a “Z” for Zlatan.
- 2016 sales: 91.6 billion dollars
- Employees worldwide: 460,000
- Market capitalization: 110 billion dollars
At 35 trillion cubic meters, this oil giant owns the world’s largest natural gas reserves (17 percent of the reserves worldwide). Gazprom has been a FIFA partner since 2015 (the Russian company has already been on the front of Bundesliga team Schalke 04’s jerseys since 2007, with the contract lasting until 2022).
However, the commitment is controversial. For instance, the company uses its monopoly position to continuously exert pressure on other countries. Early this year, Gazprom warned Europe of supply bottlenecks and price increases if they didn’t increase imports from Russia. Furthermore, there are critical views of the close connection between the state-owned enterprise and the Putin administration.
- 2017 sales (Hyundai Motor Germany): 1.62 billion euros
- Employees (Hyundai Motor Germany): 204
- Fourth-largest automotive manufacturer
The collaboration between Hyundai and the UEFA began back in the year 1999. The 2000 European Championship was the first large tournament for the automotive manufacturer. Hyundai and FIFA entered their first World Cup partnership in 2002, with sister company Kia joining in 2006. Since the Summer’s Tale in Germany, Hyundai/Kia have been official (vehicle) partners for FIFA. At this year’s World Cup, Hyundai/Kia are providing the tournament with 530 vehicles, including the team buses (and the German bus).
Special marketing promotion for the World Cup: As part of the “Be there with Hyundai” campaign, Hyundai outfitted all 32 team busses with various slogans. Fans had the opportunity to submit and vote on a slogan. So now, for example, the German bus bears the inscription “ZUSAMMEN. GESCHICHTE SCHREIBEN” (MAKE HISTORY. TOGETHER). England’s team has “SEND US VICTORIOUS” and Morocco has “The Atlas Lions, pride of Morocco.”
- Sales (2016/17): 39 billion QAR (Qatar riyal) (roughly 10.7 billion dollars)
- Fleet (2017): 209 planes
- Passengers: 32,007 in 2017
Qatar Airways is a new partner at the 2018 World Cup. The airline is thus replacing Emirates, which had been FIFA’s official airline for eight years. Owned by the state, Qatar Airways will also be an official partner for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Like Gazprom, Qatar Airways is a controversial sponsor. The placing of the World Cup in four years in particular made for heavy criticism. In addition to accusations of corruption, the human rights situation and working conditions are criticized above all. Hundreds of deaths are said to have already occurred at the World Cup construction sites.
Special marketing promotion for the World Cup: The airline has secured the services of Nicole Scherzinger for the World Cup. The former Pussycat Dolls singer tuned in with the song “Dancing in the Streets.”
Qatar Airways has also been a sponsor of FC Bayern München since 2018. In doing so, the airline replaced Lufthansa at the German record-winning champion after 16 years. This partnership was also a cause for discussion and criticism. The German champion argued with the internationalization of the company and the matching orientation of the airline.
- 2016 sales: 255 billion yuan (roughly 40 billion dollars)
- Employees: Roughly 156,000
Wanda is FIFA’s first Chinese main sponsor. The company will be a partner with the international association for the World Cups from 2018 to 2030. The Wanda Group is replacing Sony as FIFA’s sponsor.
The Wanda Group was founded in 1988, and among other things owns China’s largest movie theater chain, travel agencies, theme parks, and finance companies. Wanda Commercial Properties is the largest real estate company in the world, and the largest owner of five-star hotels worldwide. By their own account, the Wanda Cultural Industry Group is also the largest cultural company in China. The corporation has already been active in the soccer industry since 2011 – Dalian Wanda is the main sponsor of the Chinese Super League.
- 2017 sales worldwide: 22.8 billion dollars
- 2016 sales in Germany: 3.26 billion euros
- Number of restaurants worldwide: Roughly 37,000
- Number of restaurants in Germany: Nearly 1500
McDonald’s appeared as a World Cup sponsor for the first time in 1994. Besides FIFA, the company also sponsors the German national team.
Special marketing promotion for the World Cup: In an ad spot for the this year’s World Cup marketing campaign “Yes to what we love,” soccer fans of all kinds of backgrounds can be seen along with German national player Jerome Boateng. The spot is meant to be a symbol against racism. Boateng has been a brand ambassador for the fast-food chain since last year.
What’s more, children from all over the world can enter the stadium hand in hand with the soccer stars as part of the players’ escort.
- Budweiser is part of Anheuser Busch-InBev, one of the largest beer breweries in the world
- AB InBev 2017 sales: 56 billion dollars
- 2017 beer production worldwide: Nearly 613 million hectoliters
- Employees: Roughly 183,000
Budweiser has been a FIFA sponsor the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. As an official sponsor, Budweiser enjoys the exclusive right to serve beer at the World Cup.
Special marketing promotion for the World Cup: In the “Light up the FIFA World Cup” marketing campaign video, Budweiser lets loose an army of drones to ultimately land by the fans in the World Cup stadium in Russia.
Furthermore, Budweiser is using the social media app Snapchat for activation. The company has a developed a corresponding Snapchat filter for the World Cup. The first in the world to respond to users’/fans’ volume. The filter was able to be used for the first time during the group match between England and Tunisia. It’s also set to be available during the second match against Panama. During the last match against Belgium, fans will also have the opportunity to interact with each other using a new feature of the augmented reality filter. The filter can be used by all persons over 18 years of age.
Finally, Budweiser will choose the “Man of the Match” after each World Cup game. Fans have the opportunity to vote online.
- 2013 sales: 15.04 billion dollars
- Employees: More than 75,000
In addition to Wanda, Hisense is another somewhat unknown brand on the boards of the World Cup stadiums.
Hisense Co. is a Chinese manufacturer of entertainment electronics. Their special focus is on TVs. The company was founded in 1969, and is the television sector leader in China (number one for 14 years). But also Hisense also ranks among the key companies for TVs worldwide.
In the sports sector, Hisense is engaged in several sports. One of the arenas at the Tennis Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne bears the name “Hisense Arena.”
In the soccer industry, Hisense has been a “Premium Partner” of FC Schalke 04 since 2014. The company installed Europe’s largest video cube in the “Royal Blues’” soccer stadium.
- Sales: 2.04 billion dollars
- Employees: Roughly 30,000
Mengniu is a new FIFA sponsor at the 2018 World Cup. The Mengniu Group numbers among the leading companies in the dairy sector in Greater China (China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan). According to a report by the “The Guardian,” the company was involved in the Chinese milk powder scandal in 2008. Only Mengniu is permitted to sell yogurt drinks and ice cream at the World Cup in Russia.
Vivo ranks among the world’s largest smartphone companies. The fourth Chinese company is the official smartphone sponsor at the World Cup, and has a contract with FIFA through 2022. Among other things, the company sponsors the NBA in China.