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How UK Sales Promotions showed us just how odd the Qatar World Cup truly was


You may find this a pretty obvious statement, and non-controversial. There hasn’t been that much promotional activity from household brands around World Cup 2022.

Since at least the 1982 World Cup, every tournament has seen a bonanza of Grocery sector promotions. And not just grocery, white goods, brown goods, travel, finance, all have run promotions. A plethora of ‘Football’ themed promotions around the time of World Cup activity, is as self-evident an expectation as Chocolate promotions are at Easter and drinks promotions are at Christmas. It just always happens. Until that is, Qatar. There’s been barely a ripple on the shelves. Forgive the expression but it’s a promotional desert out there just now.

Now of course there are a number of significant global, local, and cultural shifts that have helped cause this.

Retailers are struggling to get stock on shelves just now, some stores last week were rationing eggs to customers. So supply of promotional stock may be an issue.

A post-pandemic increase in home delivery of groceries means fewer customers are even in-store to see promotional displays.

But above all, it is a winter World Cup, for the first time. And brands, retailers, even promotional agencies will be very wary of the unknown. What appetite will there even be for a World Cup in the run up to Christmas? Let’s face it, stores will have planned for the certainties around Christmas promotional events. Do they want conflicting and confusing messaging at point of sale?

And let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. There is a poor cultural fit between many brands and a Qatar World Cup. Since the pandemic marketing generally has shifted to a lighter touch. To building more emotional relationships with consumers. It’s now a world where what brands do is more important than what they say. And there is no escaping the problems and difficulties of being too closely associated with a World Cup in Qatar. It has been a relatively easy decision for brand marketers to dial down their World Cup activity or pass on it altogether.

So what about Mexico, Canada and the USA in 2026? For FIFA, brand sponsors like Budweiser, whose 2022 promotional activity is relatively low key compared with previous tournaments, will be looking to leverage the relationship much more effectively than they have been able to in 2022.


One tournament with poorer promotional opportunities than usual may not be a deal breaker. But two? The pressure on brands and FIFA to get their act together will be huge.


As for 2022, the only big winners? Argentina.



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