Setting the scene. Football first.

Global sporting events like the FIFA Women’s and Men’s World Cup attract massive global audiences, and provide brands with an optimal platform to elevate their brand position in the hearts and minds of consumers.
05 July 2023

Client Director, Media

The seasonal media landscape experiences the greatest skews of inflation and competition during events garnering high global attention and reach, when supply of target audiences is highest and concentrated within a group of channels. Sporting tournaments are examples of such events, with football ranking first in total global reach during the FIFA Women’s and Mens World Cup competitions, or similar global sporting events such as the EUROs football tournament and the Olympics. These events attract massive global audiences and provide brands with an optimal platform to elevate their brand position in the hearts and minds of consumers. Primarily, advertisers can do this through strategic sponsorship campaigns, aligning their messaging with the sentiments of the tournament, or the cultural zeitgeist, in order to not only reach but effectively impact their desired audience segments effectively. The key draw of sponsorship campaigns is that advertisers can reach engaged consumers, rather than regular casual viewership – this allows for elevated levels of quality to be generated around brands and the experience of the event itself. Ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Paris 2024 Olympics, Kantar have consolidated sponsorship, sports and campaign effectiveness thought leadership to equip brands with the key insights needed to activate successful events sponsorship campaigns.   

To set the scene, Kantar’s 2022 ‘SportsScope’ study provides useful context uncovered through surveying 29,500 consumers across 31 markets, specifically questioning the perceptions around large sporting events. Findings from the study show that football is ranked as the number 1 sport in 25 out of 31 markets, with almost 70% of adults claiming that they follow the World Cup tournament. To build on this huge international reach potential, the World Cup is seen as an appropriate stage to represent and tackle social issues, with 53% of fans believing that ‘Football is an effective platform to address social issues locally and worldwide’. Thus, it was the campaigns that most effectively synthesised sentiments of excitement and occasion, along with a level of social responsibility that performed most effectively during last year’s World Cup – a period which saw benchmarks for brand equity metrics of Meaningfulness and Consideration significantly increase in comparison to previous quarters.  


Competition for share of voice (SOV) and high media spends during global events  

To realise the impacts of meaningful, quality campaigns the consumer must first be reached. Strong inflation is often observed during high global reach events, with the increased supply of impressions making every second a brand gets in front of the consumer more valuable. On a localised level, this can be seen during seasonal periods such as December or national events such as the Superbowl in the US. The same seasonal inflation seen within these localised examples get amplified to a greater level during international tournaments as a brand’s potential audience expands from national to transnational. As a result, brands must look to create lasting integrated impacts across media assets, particularly focusing on the quality of creatives in enhancing Awareness, cut through and category level Brand Recall. Without these quality elements, campaigns risk being overlooked and forgotten within the ocean of noise. Analysis of the Nielsen Ad Spend database highlights just how loud this ocean of noise is - the 2022 Q4 UK media landscape was ruled by astronomical spends purely driven by the target of cutting through. Amazon was the top multimedia spender at £86.4M, followed by McDonalds at £54.1M, retail giants like Tesco at £53.4M and finally the tech industry with Google and Meta spending £41.1M and £34.7M respectively. To contextualise this – these spends within Q4 2022 are equivalent to annual media spends for some brands. So, to an extent, money talks – cutting through and securing SOV will require brands to dedicate additional investments.  

Is it all about spend? Spoiler alert, no.  

High spends alone however cannot drive success, just like a purely star-studded team without quality cohesion and management can’t lift the trophy. Events like the World Cup attract a regular, daily viewership so delivering assets which are not onerous to the consumer is vital. Coupled with this, media planning must be effectively managed with a particularly close control over frequency levels (the quickest way to start driving negative equity for a brand is to induce frequency fatigue among consumers). A key indicator of the increase in need of campaign quality during tournament periods comes from an analysis of Kantar’s CrossMedia database – a comprehensive set of campaign effectiveness norms split by market and media channel, comprising close to 1000 media campaigns as the base. A comparison of 2022 Q4 CrossMedia norms vs. Q1-3 2023 shows a significant rise in brand equity standards particularly within the lower funnel (consideration metrics of brand favourability, purchase intent and affinity). The consideration benchmarks for driving ‘above norm’ (top 30%) campaigns are 20% higher during Q4 in comparison to Q1-3. Additionally, Awareness and Associations norms also experienced higher thresholds than previous quarters collectively with above norm Awareness baselines increasing by 3% and associations by 7%. There are also similarly large increases in benchmarks for driving ‘in-line’ with market average campaigns. What becomes clear is that while the upper and mid-funnels may be effectively achieved through spends alone, the action oriented lower funnel Consideration metrics (especially the key long term brand loyalty measure of affinity) require high quality, meaningfully different campaigns in order to see lifts.  


So, what is the optimally strategic media mix?  

Now that the associated challenges of driving brand equity success during high reach events have been established, the natural follow up question asks how brands can effectively develop media strategies to not only ensure cut through and recall, but also drive Meaningful Difference and Consideration. Meta-analysis of 8 CrossMedia studies run for FIFA World Cup 2022 multimedia campaigns across 5 European markets (UK, France, Germany, Poland, Czechia) reveals some key best practices for media campaigns.  

First, an incorporation of a representative channel mix of digital and offline is vital – high reach events pull in the heaviest and lightest of viewers across channels, so maximising potential of exposure and incremental reach through a variety of formats and experiences is important. Our meta-analysis showed that almost 75% of brand equity impact of World Cup campaigns was driven through a synthesis of offline and digital channels, with sole exposure to TV representing the remaining 25%. This suggests that while TV is unavoidable for setting the foundations, it is only when it is complemented with an array of channels that the full impact potential is realised. Findings have shown that radio is a fantastic offline complementary channel, with cost of reach being almost 75% cheaper but delivered impacts indexing high. This is not to suggest that TV can be replaced by radio, but when integrated as part of the multichannel strategy we see that radio campaigns are able to reinforce the messaging and audio cues of AV assets effectively during this period. Within the digital space, it is the platforms which promote large screen AV viewing that perform strongest – namely YouTube. YouTube ads boast the greatest continuity, integrative capacity with TV assets and non-skippability, all while being a fraction of the price and much more targetable. In this way, the foundations set by the TV campaign can be consolidated with a targeted, relevant-to-consumer secondary exposure in the digital space. The findings also reaffirm that during global events, while TV is still the most important foundation setting channel, social channels and YouTube are better at reaching the younger audience and consolidating the messages introduced by TV.  

Additionally, Kantar’s Global Sportscope deep dive into football advertising reveals that the most successful advertisers build bespoke narratives around the tournament, break stereotypes, tap into the cultural zeitgeist and promote social responsibility. This, whilst creatives remain brand centric and relatable, is key to landing effective brand equity lifts. Assets must also strike a balance between being integrated as part of a broader cross-channel story (i.e., the TV ad links into the YouTube ad, which links into the radio audio), but also being tailored to the nuances of the market they are deploying in. It is important not to follow a copy and paste approach of global assets, but rather to distil the most important messages and tailor them to suit local nuances, to maximise impact transference. Analysis of our Link Creative database shows that campaigns which are connected by a central idea, while still being tailored to different channels, are 57% more effective at delivering brand impact than non-integrated strategies.  

Lastly, our 2022 multimarket World Cup CrossMedia studies show that the most successful campaigns were those that promoted multi-channel exposure, with at least three separate experiences across channels for consumers generating double the brand equity impacts of those exposed to only one. As an example, taking TV as a given, the secondary exposure to a cost effective and targeted audio message on radio and a hyper-targeted and trendy tertiary AV exposure on YouTube or social would satisfy these multiple touchpoint guidelines and ensure the highest potential impact. The purpose of this example is not to be prescriptive, but rather to highlight how each channel brings strengths to a plan, whilst highlighting it’s the successful experience of all channels, not just one, which generates impact levels greater than the sum of their parts.  

Advertisers, media agencies and media publishers should map out measurement programmes tailored to such seasonal media activations, so that investments are fine-tuned to maximise desired outcomes. Kantar Insights’ media measurement suite is well positioned to design research which measures the key performance metrics discussed above. To find out more please visit and to receive a copy of the reference deck which visualises the data cited in the article please contact Sparsh Pandya (Client Director, UK Insights Media team