PR Insight 7 minute read
Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
Noticed any football on TV lately? Apparently there is some sort of world championship going on.... but it’s not just about football, the World Cup gives brands a chance to show off their skills too.
Plus it is giving Russia, an opportunity to try and change its international reputation as a thug. A chance it is making good use of. As Carl Thomson, director at public affairs agency Interel and former deputy chairman of the Association of Professional Political Consultants, says: “One thing that became noticeable in the first few days of the World Cup is the difference between people’s perception of Russia as a hostile, unwelcoming place, and the experience of the England fans who have been impressed with how well things have been run and the friendly reception they’ve been given.
“Before the tournament a lot of fans said they were cautious about going to Russia due to fears about violence and hooliganism. In some parts of the media there was almost a sneering attitude around Russia’s ability to host such a large sporting event. The tensions over things like the Skripal incident, the war in Syria and Crimea mean that Russia generally gets bad PR. Should things go as well over the next few days as they have over the last couple of weeks, the World Cup could be more effective at changing some people’s attitude towards Russia than any PR campaign might have done.”
Russia is one PR success story of the champtionship so far, below PR pundits describe the brands that are also scoring this summer.
Cheers for Budweiser!
Steve Monk-Chipman, designer at agency Bottle, says: “Brands should take a lesson from ABInBev’s Budweiser, which has used this opportunity to activate the largest commercial campaign in its history, across more than 50 countries.
“Perhaps you’ve seen its playful Wall-E-esque film that sees drones delivering Budweiser, or vending machines asking fans to cheer for beer, or the BudBoat on the Thames, decked out in its red livery. Even if you’ve missed any of the eight million light up stadium cups on your screens, Bud’s unfaltering presence in our supermarkets is unavoidable. Entrances and aisles are piled high with their promotional and limited-edition World Cup offerings.
“The force with which Budweiser has claimed momentary supermarket monopoly is impressive. If the purpose of marketing is to elevate visibility of a brand to an audience, then Budweiser is well on its way to an enduring World Cup ubiquity.”
Paddy Power scores goals for polar bears and LGBT issues
Chris Gratton, head of sport and entertainment, UK at PR firm FleishmanHillard Fishburn, says: “Major sporting events will never be short of attempts by brands to capitalise on the hype and eyeballs which they inevitably attract by both official sponsors and non-sponsors alike.
“And whilst the location of this year’s World Cup has led many brands to play safe and steer clear of any significant statement or position, Paddy Power has ‘come out’ all guns blazing – with two (and counting) punchy and purposeful stunts which both shine a light on, and pledge funding around two contentious Russian policies.
“Using ‘Agee’ the polar bear as the protagonist, the bookmaker’s first stunt – the initial reveal of which caused considerable furore – was a terrific exposé of the Russian Arctic’s environmental and geographical secrecy and a pledge to Polar Bears International. Next, came an equally commendable pledge to donate £10k to an LGBT charities for every goal the Russian football team score, both to highlight and rebuke Russia’s ‘policy of discrimination’.
“Paddy Power is not alone in speaking out on important, and sometimes divisive issues; but it is amongst the bravest and most imaginative. In appealing beyond the liberal set, Paddy Power has used its unique brand power to shine a very bright and uncomfortable light on LGBT and environmental issues in a way that speaks as loudly to the fan as it does the activist.”
Amazingly, as I write this, England is still in the tournament. So never mind which brands are winners, come on England!