Sponsors could pay $125 mn for Fifa 2010 World Cup

MUMBAI: Some of the world's top football and sponsorship experts spoke at the Octagon Football Conference held at the Hilton Hotel in Johannesburg.

The biggest announcement to the big brand marketers attending was - if you want to be one of the six worldwide partners involved in the 2010 Fifa World Cup, you will need around $125 million.

Octagon South Africa Group MD Neill Duffy, who also chaired the conference, said he was pleased to hear the commercial structure will be changing for the 2010 World Cup. "There will be only six 'tier one' partners, eight Fifa World Cup sponsors and four to six national sponsors. The cost of the other packages is currently speculative. My message to corporate South Africa is - if these sponsorships are financially out of reach, there are lots of smaller opportunities in between each Fifa World Cup to build an association with this overwhelmingly popular game, and to integrate your products with the masses of SA consumers, who are passionate followers of football."

The tender process for sponsorship of the 2010 tournament will start on 20 December 2004. The conference answered a lot of questions for the attending promoters of most of South Africa's largest brands.

When Asked which brands and in particular which SA brands were likely to get involved at a high level Octagon UK senior VP Phil Carling replied saying, "The top six partnerships are likely to be multinationals that have a football sponsorship pedigree. Only Coke and Philips have been with this game from the onset and are likely to continue. Mass target market brands in the industry categories such as airline, automobile, fuel, digital, soft drink, financial services, alcohol beverage and a restaurant chain are the most likely to get involved. Fifa's goal is to get a major South African brand on board that has global ambitions and my best guess is probably South African Breweries.

"Having $40 million as the sponsorship entry fee for the 2006 Fifa World Cup, begs the question - what does the $125 million buy prospective sponsors in 2010? Hospitality rights, 500 tickets per match, designation, accreditation, category exclusivity, media exposure, broadcast rights, internet, on screen credits, rotation boards and public viewing rights are what are on offer."

Speaking about television broadcast rights from a local perspective was SABC Sports MD Mvuzo Mbebe. "The SABC intends taking a more flexible approach towards potential sponsors. We will be asking what the brand wants to achieve and we will be developing packages that not only work for both of us but also for the sport. We encourage marketers to take a long-term view. There are lots of opportunities between June 2005 and June 2010. There are also all the Fifa qualifying matches before 2006 that present an opportunity. One thing for sure, we will be more conducive to speaking to those companies that have invested in soccer prior to the 2010 World Cup."

Carling said there is a now a more modern way of looking at sponsorships. and companies need to ask if there a brand fit and if there going to be a business return. "Make sure that part of your package as a sponsor, is access to the audience. One way of doing this is to create an extension to a sponsorship like simple merchandise sales, which often makes back the sponsorship fee."

Octagon UK VP new media Dan Markham said, "New media is also going to play a major role in how sponsors will engage with its audience. In Japan we already have cell phones that can transmit television waves. By 2010, we will be able to sit down on a park bench and watch the whole game on our mobile phone screens."

Mbebe humorously argued on why anyone would want to spend approximately R1.50 a minute watching a game when television was for free. However, Markham emphasised that cell phones would play a major role and that the content of the sponsor's message across all mediums needs to be simple, engaging, interactive, very creative and if possible induce viral marketing.

One threat that Fifa will have to watch out for is that of ambush advertising, While conceeding that it had been a problem in the past Duffy said that the South African Government needs to enforce new legislation protecting the sponsor's rights. "We envisage brand 'police' employed by Fifa at every game, enforcing this legislation."

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