Today we will learn which team will lift the 2010 FIFA World Cup. But even before the kick-off in Johannesburg, we can give our verdict on the winners and losers among the sponsors. It is not as clear as the result on the pitch, because it is not necessarily about the visible success of a brand on television or the quality of the advertising campaigns.
The partners that support the World Cup pay a handsome fee for the privilege. The World Cup is expected to generate US$1.6 billion (Dh5.87bn) in sponsorship revenue during the period from 2007 to 2010, according to IEG, a subsidiary of the advertising and marketing group WPP. The sponsorship media coverage suggests Visa paid $170 million for its 2007-2014 rights, while Emirates Airline paid $195m. Sponsors receive a mix of commercial and marketing rights including tickets, signage at the matches, the right to use the FIFA World Cup logo and more.
The success of the "activation" of the FIFA partnership will vary from company to company. It is based on several factors including the advertising value, the brand benefits, actual sales, media voice, customer development and retention, and even staff motivation. All chief executives would declare themselves happy with their commercial returns. A FIFA partnership is not something to undertake lightly or without a strategy. It is a question of maximising every detail of the sponsorship agreement and having total commitment across the business. When done properly, sponsorship drives sales, adds sparkle to brands and creates new commercial horizons.
Here are my winners and losers of the World Cup: Best South African player Since I have not visited South Africa for the World Cup and have not seen any local activation, I have to say the power supply company Aggreko. Why? Because its investment will have been subsidised by product barter and its orange brand has stood out in the cluttered FIFA signage boards. Pretty simple really, but I bet you all its customers worldwide have noticed it.
Best New Player For me, Yingli Solar is a new star on the block. This Chinese solar energy business has used the World Cup to announce its global intentions on the world stage. Yingli who? Well that's the whole point ? Web searches on the company's name will have multiplied dramatically, its inquiries and engagements from customers will have increased and, if it used its business development (aka tickets) properly, then it should have been a major success. I particularly like the company's support of FIFA's African legacy project, the building of 10 football centres this year, each with solar energy technology provided by Yingli Solar. The fact that the company is FIFA's first Mandarin-using partner is worthy of mention.
Golden Boot Award This normally goes to the player who scores the most goals in the World Cup. For goals, read sales. I suspect that Adidas will have won this. Why? Well, looking at the competition, Emirates has had a great World Cup in terms of global brand presence, but the stadiums are not as full as the organisers would have liked. Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, may say that the event is a success with more than 500,000 visitors, but why were they all not at the matches? Even so, Emirates will benefit from the television audience and new routes that the FIFA partnership has helped it to secure.
I am sure that Coca-Cola, Budweiser and McDonald's will all show good sales, and there is a strong case for Sony with 3D, but worldwide, Adidas has definitely delivered. Even though goalkeepers and free-kick specialists are not massive fans of it, the Jabulani ball is likely to sell more than 13 million units. The 12 World Cup teams clothed by Adidas should generate sales of 7 million replica shirts, and if Spain wins today, that will be the icing and cherries for Herr Hainer, the chief executive.
Best Defender Probably Adidas again (over Nike), but Budweiser wins this on a technicality thanks to FIFA. The Orange Girls stunt by the Bavaria brewery was an interesting sponsorship moment, but a FIFA recent statement suggests the matter was settled out of court. While fun, it was a bit half-hearted. FIFA was able to remind the world that Uncle Sam's favourite beer was the official beer and order was restored.
Confusion Marketing award Who is the official car manufacturer of the World Cup? a) Hyundai ? correct. But wait ? b) Kia ? Yes, I saw Kia's banners as well as the marvellous Al Jazeera ads. c) Maybe it is another Asian brand ? I don't know. d) Is it both? The correct answer is "d". Personally, I would never recommend two brands in the same category rights space. I understand why the Koreans have done this - as has Coke with Powerade - but it leads to confusion, and it has diluted rather than doubled the impact.
The Wayne Rooney Award Alas, it is Visa. Like Wayne, Visa has all the credentials and form. It did the basics no doubt (the company said last week that international transactions using Visa in the first round were $176m, up 65 per cent on the same period last year), but there has been just no sparkle. It is probably just a sign that Visa had no proper budget to activate, given that global consumer spending is down. All in all though, a disappointment for a company that is widely regarded as one of the most successful sponsors in global modern sport. Like Wayne, it will be back.
The St Andrews Award Aged 7 at St Andrews School in Woking England, I could always do better, as far as the headmaster was concerned. This award goes to FIFA. Why? Well, there is no question that FIFA is in the driving seat. The product is brand, commercial and marketing gold dust. FIFA runs a fantastic show. Personally, though, I wish it would take the best of the Olympics and UEFA Champions League sponsorship models and apply that to the World Cup. In other words, just stick to the top six partners around the pitch and in-vision (aka Champions League), charge more and then sell local and international partner packages that include just the FIFA badge and tickets. For me, the stadium branding has been way too cluttered.
The Jules Rimet Trophy Who won the World Cup commercially? South Africa, of course. It may not have quite brought the tourist numbers that the country had predicted, and the vuvuzela has irritated as many viewers as it has amused, but the country has come together as a nation and hosted a fantastic event. Its tourism brand has been invigorated. South Africa has given itself a great tourism and business platform. Raise the trophy, Danny Jordaan, Jacob Zuma and Nelson Mandela! You deserve it.
Jamie Cunningham is the chief executive of Professional Sports Group, a sponsorship consultancy based in Abu Dhabi email@example.com