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2022 marks the first ever FIFA World Cup held right in the middle of the Christmas season.

This timing presents both a challenge and an opportunity for brands, as the extremely busy shopping season combines with football fever.

Here are our thoughts on how brands can make the most of the season. If you want tailored insights about how any promotions over the season actually work on the ground, get in touch.

Consider the politics

First things first – the hosting of the World Cup in Qatar is controversial, thanks to that country’s human rights record. Serious concerns have been raised about the way workers building the stadiums for the World Cup were treated, and the ongoing illegality of homosexuality in Qatar. Many football leaders – including those from England and Wales – have recently written to FIFA over these issues, and several brands have distanced themselves from the championship.

This doesn’t mean every pub hosting a watching party is going to be boycotted. But it does mean you should consider how your brand values align to the wider championship, and perhaps consider whether any promotion you do run makes sure to acknowledge these concerns with the host country. You can get behind England without quite getting behind Qatar.

Stand out 

Christmas is traditionally one of the busiest times for brands and promotions every year – as is the quadrennial World Cup. The airwaves will be full of advertising squeezed in between live match coverage throughout the day and early evening. 

To stand out, you might need to do something quite different. Maybe it isn’t on TV – but just instore? Maybe you jump headfirst into Twitter, where live watch-along football coverage will be massive? And maybe you get really creative and properly blend the idea of a football game in the desert and Christmas in a cold United Kingdom? Getting that mix will be hard but not impossible.

Think indoors

FIFA World Cups are usually associated with large outdoor watching events, but this won’t be the case this year given the timing. Instead, crowds will be packed into warm pubs and other venues to catch games – if they leave the house at all.

This presents a different opportunity for on-trade brands. Cold beer will probably still sell well, but a promotion of some kind of warm drink will do far better than it would during a Summer World Cup – mulled wine or spiced rum or the like.

There’s also a chance that with costs so high many will opt to watch the games at home, perhaps alone or perhaps with friends and family invited over. Promotions that feed into this, perhaps with hosting bundles or party-sized portions, could do very well.

Be ready

Brands prepare for Christmas for months, and should do the exact same for the World Cup. It might feel like you’re tempting fate, but get brand assets ready for all eventualities with the UK teams competing (England and Wales). It could be coming home – or both teams could be get wiped at the group stage. Be prepared!

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