What Brands are Making the World Cup Work for Them?

Shrouded in controversy the 2018 World Cup has started with a bang; what brands and businesses stand to do well from the tournament?

Football fan or not, you can’t ignore the fact that football fever has taken hold of the globe as the 2018 Fifa World Cup kicked off last week. However the global tournament this year has been surrounded by controversy and this has had a negative effect on some of the existing sponsorship relationships.

Many of the leading sponsors pulled their advertising over stories of Fifa being corrupt, and others were concerned about having their name associated with the Russian regime or condoning it’s humans rights violations. But even with these concerns, plenty of businesses and brands have jumped on the bandwagon; but how are they making the World Cup work for them this summer?


China’s largest commercial property company, the Wanda Group, is one of Fifa’s seven official partners. Wanda Group is the world’s largest real estate enterprise and the biggest five-star hotel owner in the world. By supporting Fifa, they can showcase their commitment to the sustainable growth of the sport and to a lasting partnership. By using its international appeal, the Wanda Group aims to bring youth from all around the world closer to the game.  A central element was their “FIFA Flag Bearers” programme, where a selection of children got the chance to carry the FIFA Flag at the start of a FIFA match. Additionally, further opportunities will be carried out, such as the team training view and the post-match team bench visit. It appears this campaign will only catapult Wanda group to new heights.


With a long-standing relationship with Fifa, Adidas is a sponsor of the World Cup is expected. More than just kitting the players, Adidas are supporting Fifa’s mission to ‘Develop the game, touch the world, build a better future’, by contributing products for numerous development courses and CSR initiatives around the world.

Adidas pulled out all the stops for their “Creators” World Cup ad, including Messi, Beckham, Pogba. However, Nike remains a huge competition for the brand, and Nielsen Sports’ 2018 World Football Report estimates that Ronaldo (a Nike ambassador) amassed  350 million more social engagement clicks than Lionel Messi, Adidas’s main sports star. So the jury’s out on whether Adidas will come out on top following this tournament or if they will be pipped to the post.

Fox News

After outbidding ESPN for the rights to show the 2018 World Cup, only to have their team failing to qualify, you can imagine this was deemed a disaster. However a clever campaign with a central theme which focused on “The World Becomes the FIFA World Cup” which rolled out earlier this year and played up the tournament as an epic face-off where “men become gods” (Argentina’s Lionel Messi) and “allies become rivals” (Manchester United teammates who are playing for different teams) seems to have worked and pulled the audience back into the tournament.


Visa, an official World Cup Sponsor has released some new ads, with the help of the famous Swedish footballer – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. When the advert was released it aroused much suspicious that he may in fact be playing in the tournament but that was not to be. However, this didn’t stop VISA capitalising on Zlatan, even renaming themselves Viza. Their ‘Don’t miss a goal’ campaign is on point and plays on the speedy concepts of fast and easy payments worldwide.

Iceland Air

Following the incredible underdog tale from Euro 2016, its no wonder Iceland Air jumped on the bandwagon to create a World Cup Ad. The clever creation from  The Brooklyn Brothers and Icelandic agency Islenska sees attendees stopping over in Iceland get a 90-minute football inspired experience where they can learn the iconic Iceland chant, relax in geothermal baths, enjoy a training masterclass with some of the players.

These are just a handful of brands who appear to be making the World Cup work for them, and there are hundreds more who will be doing the same over the coming month. So get yourself ready for the media onslaught of World Cup ads from the weird to the wonderful – there is nowhere to hide!


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