The Soccer World Cup is about FIFA and FIFA alone. That is the marketing message of the South African World Cup 2010. FIFA wooed big money and bullied little guys to make 2010 and subsequent world cups their own domain.
The sponsorship money is reported to be more than $3 billion per tournament. That is 80% of the entire South African advertising spend per year. A simple calculation tells one that no group of sponsors can get the same benefit than what South African advertisers get from their ad spend per year.
What do sponsors get from FIFA? There are no naming rights like the Vodacom Tri Nations. The sponsor only gets the right to associate himself and his product with the event. Thereafter it still has to advertise in normal media to get its message across.
If the FIFA association were worth more than two or three times its normal advertising spend (in the case of the South African sponsors), it surely makes a mockery of traditional media or it grossly overestimates the association with the event.
Methinks it is the latter. Nike demonstrated this by having a higher awareness than Adidas, the main sponsor, during the period preceding the event.
It is however not prudent to blame the sponsors. They have entered into this in good faith after being wooed by the FIFA executive as to how big a bargain they were getting. But after signing on it was FIFA and FIFA alone. The exposure the sponsors got at the games itself was scandalously little to say the least.
The Ayoba campaign by MTN was highly successful, but it could just as well have been run without any formal sponsorship and by tweaking it they were not thwarted by legislative impediments.
An objective assessment would, however, demonstrate that the sponsors of the event have squandered the money of their companies to pay such enormous amounts for the FIFA sponsorship.. Any money paid for sponsorship of the World Cup in the future would border on squandering company assets by paying outrageous amounts of money for a sponsorship in which the central organisation is the commercially dominant party.
The winners are probably Sandton Square, Clearwsater Commons (the Waterfront) and other pockets of tourist spots. If one ventured outside of these venues, it was difficult to guess that a major sporting event was taking place in South Africa. Traffic was hardly an issue. In fact it was a breeze.
The sellers of mirror covers and small flags were among the winners of the world cup. And I have heard some successful B&B stories, although one suspects that they are in the minority.
Ultimately the country was the winner. The exposure was enormous. But in the end we did pay for it. It was not manna from heaven.
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