Winning in a World Cup Winter Wonderland

14 Feb 2022

Q4 2022 presents some interesting dynamics for all marketers and their marketing service providers to tackle. 

Where there’s change, there’s opportunity.

Jack Welch, General Electric CEO

First, the men’s football FIFA World Cup takes place in Qatar with the final on 18th December, just one week before Christmas Day.  In a world recently dominated by unprecedented events, this is another as major international football tournaments have always taken place in the northern hemisphere summer and between seasons for the European clubs.   For the UK, in particular, this throws up significant challenges not only for the domestic football fixture schedules, but also for advertisers considering their approach to the busiest period of the year.

ITV, the official (commercial) broadcaster in the UK are predicting huge audience numbers.  The games will kick off at friendly times; 10am, 1pm, 4pm or 7pm and following England’s march to the final of the Euro 2020 the expectation and interest will be on a lifetime high for many.  56 years of hurt… 

The World Cup is one of those iconic sporting moments that brings people together whether they identify themselves as football fans or not.  In desperate hope that Covid-19 restrictions will be a thing of the past and knowing that the tournament will take place in the run up to Christmas 2022 we anticipate lots of organised “work events”; from family gatherings to friends socialising and reuniting, to actual work events to help business re-engage their teams and partners.  This combination of feel-good factors for winter 2022 will stimulate opportunity for on-trade activations, B2B initiatives and for brands to deliver consumer promotions to an excited and engaged audience.

It is important to remember that there are strict rules governing the use of official FIFA World Cup trade marks, emblems and mascots.  The commercial and intellectual property is defended vigorously by FIFA as you might expect when brands pay huge amounts to be the official partners.  However, this is the chance for ‘creative midfielders’ to step up and make the most of the audience opportunity afforded by the event.  Recent evidence shows that food and drink sales were the key contributor to a huge spike in retail sales in June 2021 (ONS data) as Euro 2020 took place.  England’s progress was matched by higher store footfall and bigger baskets; a fantastic opportunity to attract new shoppers, connect with customers and build brand equity.    

How do you plan to score?


October 2022 will also see the new rules with regards to promotional activity in-store for some HFSS brands come into play in the UK having been originally slated for April 2022.   HFSS products covered by the new rules will see restrictions on their location within stores and for promotions such as multibuys or buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF).   

In addition, there is also a ban on TV ads featuring product before the 9pm watershed and for all paid-for online ads (except digital-only audio) to commence from 2023.  This will have a huge impact for marketing plans but also helps shine a light on other opportunities.  There is likely to be a stronger focus on brand-building to pay dividends over the longer-term; through reformulation of product, ad messages shifting to support brand credentials or purpose-driven marketing and adoption of different marketing channels

Consumer promotions can really help…

  • They provide the perfect vehicle to cement and enhance brand associations and salience
  • An on-pack activation (that is not restricted) enables the brand to achieve stand-out in-store; extremely useful at point of purchase decision if placement is limited and can also help to build brand equity
  • The promotion also enables data capture and interaction where a brand can seek permission to continue that relationship through eCRM activity
  • Furthermore, brands can learn from first-party data insight to inform future plans


To explore ideas that can help you score (without penalties!) throughout 2022 then do get in touch.  We’re happy to provide the assists.


Chris Arnold is Business Development Director at VCG PromoRisk