World Cup 2022: What can brands do when faced with unexpected opposition?

In a last-minute reversal last week, world soccer governing body FIFA announced that alcohol could not be sold at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums. This presents a unique challenge and opportunities for brands to reconsider the value they provide and the experiences they deliver to fans, writes Moving Brands strategy director George Crichlow.

Coca-Cola reacted to the ban by providing pallets of Coca-Cola to fans as a non-alcoholic option outside stadiums, and fans could still purchase alcohol-free lager Bud Zero at the grounds.

There seems to be an opportunity for brands to play a more vital role in these situations by enhancing the experience around the games.

Limited edition collectables

The World Cup is one of the rare global events that brings people together for a common cause, yet it is treated like any other sport event. It’s an ideal opportunity for brands to create value to commemorate a moment in time.

Much like how concert venues create limited edition t-shirts, or fashion brands do one-off collaborations, brands that take part in sponsoring the World Cup have the opportunity to create limited edition collectables to enhance the occasion.

In the instance of the in-game experience, coupled with the ban on the consumption of alcoholic beverages in stadium, what if alcoholic brands created limited numbers of lower percentage alcohol bottles specifically for the games?

These could become collectable items that add value to the experience of watching the match.

Partnerships and pairing

Product pairings are an under-utilized method of enhancing brand love at events. It’s also an effective tool at creating a secondary market for strong partnerships.

In the US, the pandemic legally required bars to serve food if they were in the business of serving alcohol. This created new opportunities for brands to turn a mandate into a positive experience.

What if Budweiser created pairings with a water brand like Liquid Death just for the games?

As a means to mitigate bad behaviour in stadiums, brands could partner with water brands and create unique packaging to pair high-alcohol-content beverages with water to enhance the in-game experience. As an example, that shampoo brand Head and Shoulders packages their bottles of shampoo and conditioner together, so people visually see that they work as a pair.

Alternative brands

There is a movement towards normalising non-alcoholic or low-content beverages like Michelob Lite, which positions itself as the beer of choice for athletes. What if the World Cup created a space for new types of brand partnerships that celebrate this culture shift?

In conclusion, when brands are faced with curveballs, there is an opportunity for those able to move quickly to add value to the consumer experience while reinforcing brand love for established brands in new and original ways.

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