Coca Cola triumphs in brand recall study at Fifa World Cup

Coke came out on top according to data gathered by Sponsorship Intelligence (SI) MD Jamie Graham. SI is football's governing body Fifa’s official research organisation. A global consumer research study showed that the soft drink manufacturer is the most recalled of all Fifa sponsors. Research at venues on the Fifa World Cup Trophy Tour, which Coca-Cola sponsored, also shows how well fans had been engaged by the brand.

This result pleased Coca-Cola UK’s head of sponsorship and brand experience Steve Cumming. However, he was quick to voice an opinion that, based on a more qualitative assessment, Germany, the country itself, was the ultimate World Cup winner.

This viewpoint was supported by other panel members including Tony Blair’s former director of strategy and communications, Alistair Campbell, director of football at Umbro International, an England sponsor, Simon Marsh, T-Mobile head of sponsorship and Events Toby Hester, ITV’s brand partnerships director Gary Knight and Carlsberg (UK) sponsorship and media relations controller Gareth Roberts.

The Fanfests, a German innovation that allowed fans without tickets to congregate and watch matches with other entertainment and refreshments, were a huge success. What little trouble there was appeared to have been largely kept out of the media spotlight. Even losing in the final seemed to receive sympathetic treatment compared to the English experience. After more than a decade of internal focus on re-unification and integration, the largest economy in Europe was very effective in using its staging of the World Cup to assist in re-establishing itself as a major player on the world’s stage.

The debate then turned towards the 'losers', with the football fan and the occasional viewer both being identified as having suffered. The lack of atmosphere at the final, apparently driven by too many corporate seats and not enough real fans, appeared to reflect a wider concern that, as football becomes more successful as a business, it is losing its passion whether this is at club or global competition level. Hester, a big football fan himself, said that filling stadia with passionate fans rather than corporate stooges was a priority for T-mobile, resulting in a policy that 86 per cent of its ticket allocation must go to real fans.

New viewer figures were significant, but Campbell in particular felt that broadcasters were not doing enough to provide relevant content to make football more accessible to those not steeped in the game. Knight agreed that these new audiences needed nurturing, but pointed out that broadcasters needed support from advertisers before investment in new audience content provision could be made.

Overall, though, the mood was optimistic for the future. With Euro 2008 less than two years away, plans are already well advanced amongst broadcasters and sponsors alike. Only time will tell how well lessons from World Cup 2006 have been turned into positive action that brings football to a wider audience across different platforms without further diminishing the atmosphere of the Fifa World Cup.

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