The Brand Lesson Behind the World Cup

November 16, 2022

We plan what a campaign will be about. We look at who the audience will be, as well as when and where they’ll see it. But the 2022 World Cup in Qatar shows that’s not enough anymore – there’s a vital piece of the puzzle missing. 

On November 20th, soccer’s biggest tournament will kick off in Qatar. The World Cup may have been an institution of the sports world for 92 years, but this year’s tournament has been making headlines and raising eyebrows before the first whistle’s even been blown. 

As the first country in the Middle East to host the World Cup, the Gulf State has been determined to make their debut the biggest and the best. At an estimated cost of $200 billion with brand new stadiums and infrastructure, it’s set to be the most expensive World Cup ever. 

But the monetary cost of the new facilities, the state-of-the-art driverless metro system, and the slick new hotels aren’t what’s making the news — it’s the human cost. 

Since it was announced in 2010 that Qatar would play host, concerns have been voiced about the country’s human rights record. The global spotlight has focused on a lack of women’s rights, with women still dependent on a male guardian, combined with the deaths of as many as 7000 migrant workers during the World Cup’s major construction projects. 

Boycotting and anti-campaigns

Despite strong statements and even debates about boycotting the event by high-profile teams (Germany, Belgium, Norway), all qualifying teams are planning to attend. 

Though participating teams might be ready to flex their morals, Qatar has found that soccer fans are less forgiving. With Trafalgar Square usually hosting a roaring crowd of 7000 and giant screens showing the action, this year London will be boycotting the Qatar World Cup by canceling its traditional “fan zones”. Seven French cities, including Paris, are also boycotting the event, as well as Strasbourg. 

And of course it would be remiss not to mention the recent BrewDog marketing campaign. Anti-World Cup sponsors, lots of noise about morals and yet their beer is stocked in hotels situated around the World Cup. Pot, kettle black. Enough about that, as they have already had too much airtime with their latest stunt. But there is a huge disconnect. 

It’s the perfect example of underestimating your customer: Qatar and FIFA thought that if they had all the right infrastructure in place and they said all the right things, then their customers would ignore the rest. That’s not how it works anymore. Increasingly, people are taking a 360 view of brands – not just what they sell and what they say, but what they stand for. They’re looking for whether a brand’s actions really match their words. 

Introducing the PESTLE framework.

In the era of web 3.0 and social media, there’s an accessibility and transparency that some organizations continue to underestimate. You can’t brush things under the carpet anymore; you have to be authentically accountable. There’s a lesson for all brands here: a great campaign alone isn’t enough, you need to evaluate, plan for, and adapt to the context in which your customers will see that campaign. 

There’s a great framework for thinking through the external factors that can influence organizations and campaigns: PESTLE. It helps you to evaluate the Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental circumstances. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) also has an example of what a completed retail industry PESTLE might look like. By regularly looking at and analyzing the environment in which your business operates, you can make sure that the campaigns you’re running perfectly echo what your audience is experiencing and feeling in that moment. 

Tapping into how people are feeling is the difference between an average campaign and a memorable one. Fast Company reports that campaigns solely based on emotional content performed around twice as well as those with only rational content. Rather than seeing the context of a campaign as yet another thing to think about, it can be the perfect opportunity to create a campaign that really resonates, delivering that scale and awareness that makes brands top of mind for all the right reasons. 

If you need any help with campaign planning or implementing a PESTLE framework – we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at Bodhi & Co. 

Author Headshot

Roanna Lynch

A creative copywriter who really gets the context and company behind the campaign, Roanna helps brands express themselves in a way that’s memorable to the audiences that matter most.

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