The Brand Champions of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Opinion: What sponsor activations created the most value and scored big with fans?

Rio de Janeiro during 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia dabldy/iStock

With 64 games and more than four weeks of action behind us, 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia has finally come to a close. After beating Croatia in a 4-2 battle, France has been named World Cup champions for the first time since 1998.

From Belgium’s 94th-minute game-winning goal against Japan to Russia upsetting Spain and advancing after a shootout in the knockout rounds, there has been something for all fans to cheer (or scream) about in this year’s World Cup.

In between all of the penalty kicks and game-winning shots, brands have found ways to natively weave themselves into the World Cup social media narrative. This begs the question for this year’s sponsors and potential ones four years from now: Which brands were successful? What sponsor activations created the most value and scored big with fans?

MVPindex measured and analyzed the engagement and social value generated from brand-backed content by players and teams during the World Cup. With this data, we discovered which sponsored activations won over fans and generated a high return on investment for all parties involved.

Jersey chasers: How Adidas commanded the field

When it comes to endorsement deals and jersey sponsorships, Adidas often vies for the top spot. For this year’s World Cup, it was among the top-performing brands at the event, represented across the players’, teams’ and official @FIFAWorldCup social media accounts.

In terms of both engagement and social value, Adidas won the World Cup. The brand earned 42.9 million engagements and generated $63.6 million in social value, soaring over its competition.

But how did Adidas do it? Where did it achieve success?

Instagram played an integral role in Adidas’ World Cup social media prowess. Approximately 80.2 percent of the brand’s engagement happened with content featuring the Adidas logo on athletes’ jerseys or on stadium signage that was frequently shared on the platform.

Taking things one step further, it was the athletes who were largely responsible for driving the results. Team accounts couldn’t compare to the overwhelming effect athletes had in amplifying brand content on social.

Replenish, refresh and rage: The drink campaigns that won the World Cup

Not everyone has the chance to make it to the World Cup in person. Many watch the event from the comfort of their own homes, at bars and even at watch parties down the street.

Drink companies know this and used the World Cup to make sure their beverage was the one consumers sipped on as action unfolded on the field. Among all of the activations, Budweiser, Powerade and Coca-Cola initiated campaigns during the event that easily won over fans, generating strong results on social.

Budweiser raises a glass to the ‘Man of the Match’

Budweiser continued to drive fan engagement with its successful Man of the Match promotion, where fans were encouraged to vote for their favorite player.

After the fan votes were tallied, Budweiser would name a new Man of the Match for each game and announce it with a video featuring an interview with the winner. The campaign was a huge success, generating more than $26.1 million in social value.

Powerade perfects product placement

Powerade launched a 2018 Bracket Challenge for fans to predict this year’s winner of the World Cup, but the brand’s real engagement came simply from product placement on the field. Coolers on the sideline and athletes drinking the beverage drove over $439,700 in social value for the brand.

Coca-Cola scores with ‘The Trophy Tour’

With logos on jerseys and stadium signage, Coca-Cola came to play. Leading up to the World Cup, Coca-Cola launched a campaign called The Trophy Tour, designed to foster positive connections around the globe. 61 cities played host to the events, which included photo opportunities with the trophy, along with musical guests.

During gameplay, Coca-Cola leveraged its jersey sponsorships and stadium graphics to encourage over 5.5 million engagements and create $5.9 million in social value.

The brand (new) champions

With numerous successful brand activations during the event, it seems like France wasn’t the only winner at the World Cup this year.

Billions of people from all around the world watched the event, witnessing athletes (and brands) execute on what they’ve been preparing for since the last World Cup in 2014.

With the attention of the world fixated on the matches, brands activated on social media through innovative campaigns that created social value and drove fan engagement. From immersive events to online contests, sponsors harnessed the excitement of the World Cup and inserted their brand into part of the broader narrative.

While celebrations of this year’s World Cup are just getting underway, sponsorship and marketing teams are already thinking about what’s next. How can they leverage these insights to continue their success for the next one? How will they continue the momentum in off-years? How will they top their success?

After all, Qatar is just four short years away.

Kyle Nelson is co-founder and chief marketing officer of MVPindex, which ranks, measures and values more than 40,000 of the biggest influencers on social media in sports and entertainment.

@kyleanelson Kyle Nelson is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of MVPindex.