2022 World Cup: From promoting as a brand to making a stand

This World Cup has been like no other. From the timing to the location, decisions made surrounding the tournament have sparked backlash, making it a unique event. We look at how brands are taking a stand or are still promoting the worldwide tournament.

There have been various approaches brands have taken to voice their feelings towards the World Cup. Hummel, Denmark’s kit manufacturer recently revealed their new ‘toned down’ kit in protest stating, "we don't wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives", an action which has been widely praised but also labelled as a clever PR trick. 

Elsewhere, ING Group, The Netherlands and Belgium national team sponsor announced that they wouldn’t be making an appearance at the tournament altogether, also stating their human rights concerns. Rewe, the German national team's sponsor, took it one step further and withdrew their sponsorship of the team, citing the ban on One Love armbands by FIFA as ‘‘unacceptable’’. 

Although there has been controversy building around the World Cup, some brands are still promoting the tournament. Adidas’ focus has been around the players taking part, with Lionel Messi being the star of their videos, with the most recent titled ‘The Impossible Rondo.’ The clips show the evolution of the Argentine from his World Cup debut, to now. 

This player focused advertising is similar to Nike’s promotion of the tournament, with their ‘Footballverse’ ad including various versions of Ronaldo Fenomeno and Cristian Ronaldo featuring in a science experiment, with both brands having similar foundation ideas.

Some brands such as Aldi, are choosing to ‘play it safe’ to limit backlash by not referring to the location of the World Cup in their ads, preferring to focus on aspects such as the enjoyment of watching football and the fan experience around it. 

Due to the religion of the home nation, it was announced just before the tournament that no alcohol could be sold in stadiums. This has had a massive impact on Budweiser, an Official Sponsor of the World Cup, and they have since announced on Twitter that the winning country will get the beer they were expecting to sell at the tournament. 

There are also sponsors including McDonald’s who recognise their responsibility for advocating for human rights, being a global brand and as such, have worked closely with organisations such as the Centre for Sport and Human Rights to raise awareness and advocate for reform, with Coca-Cola and Anheuser-InBev taking similar steps. 

Overall, it seems many brands have toned down their marketing activities in relation to the World Cup or at least not referenced it specifically, due to Qatar’s human rights issues, but also due to the tournament's proximity to the festive period. 

Are you watching this year? 

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