Category News & Work

Branding and Sport – How Businesses Capitalise on Major Sporting Events


If there’s one thing that gets everyone talking, it’s global sporting events like the Olympics, FIFA World Cup or more closer to home, the Rugby World Cup. Every few years we get the opportunity to indulge our competitive streak in exciting competitions, showcasing some of the world’s best talent and watched by millions of eager fans worldwide.

It therefore comes as no surprise that brands are keen to get in front of millions of engaged customers – these chances don’t come along every day. That being said, companies are now looking for new ways to connect with sports fans. Tying a banner to the side of the court or field no longer cuts it.

So how can these attention-hungry businesses use these events to get their message across without giving in to the common advertising techniques that so many of us have become accustomed to and, let’s admit it, evolved to ignore? The answer isn’t a simple one, there was never a ‘right’ way to do marketing and there never will be. The path and strategy a business chooses must depend on their market sector, company values, long-term positioning objectives and creative talent. There’s also the important question of whether to directly advertise within the event itself or to use it as a fuel for other marketing activities.

We’ve asked some of our branding specialists to rack their brains and come up with a few examples of businesses capitalising on these sporting events.

How Budweiser Generated a Beer-Fuelled Buzz

International beer brand Budweiser were sponsors of the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup which, similarly to the Rugby equivalent, is also home to thousands of beer-hungry sport fanatics. Budweiser recognised the inconvenience of waiting in line for your favourite beverage, so they decided to deliver a fully-functional mobile beer station armed with thousands of chilled beers. Attendees supported the alcohol-equipped addition with over 3 million units of beer sold over the course of the event.

In addition to the thousands of extra beers they provided, the renowned brewery realised that alcohol often goes hand-in-hand with the odd party or two. So where would the World Cup revellers go to celebrate or drown their sorrows after the games have ended? The Budweiser hotel, obviously.

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Re-branding one of the largest hotels on Copacabana Beach, the Budweiser Hotel became host to some of the largest events and celebrity-studded guest lists. With international press coverage and appearances on celebrity social media profiles, Budweiser achieved some fairly impressive results that any brand would be proud of.

The Ultimate in Rugby and Driving

As one of the official Worldwide Partners of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Land Rover is looking to attract as much attention as possible to its latest vehicle by using it to show off the Webb Ellis trophy around the UK, including our Cathedral City of Exeter (see feature image at top of this post). It’s new defender model is being used to showcase the trophy on the annual UK ‘Trophy Tour’, with appearances from sporting celebrities and the Royal Family.

What may seem like a fun publicity stunt, the thinking behind the campaign is swayed by Land Rover’s long-term positioning strategy. Rugby, a game of endurance, agility and strength is similar in nature to the characteristic goals of the Defender range of models. This link is amplified by rugby being considered a rural sport, with the majority of Land Rover customers belonging to the rural community – it shows all the signs of a perfect partnership.

Quenching Thirst with Happiness

Coca-Cola provides consumers with nearly 2 billion servings a day from its impressive list of soft drink brands. As the largest soft drink provider in the world, it’s no surprise that the Rugby World Cup were happy to have them as the official drinks provider for the event.

To celebrate the announcement of the partnership, the global giant surprised rugby fans in East London with an appearance and training session from rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll. The ex-captain stated “today’s surprise session was a great way to kick-start the partnership between Coca‑Cola and the Rugby World Cup which is all about how the excitement of a global sport event can motivate anyone to move.”



Coca-Cola has also been busy using the event to encourage sales, by offering an official Gilbert rugby ball to lucky winners who purchase a promotional bottle. The promotion is available on all Coca-Cola varieties but surprisingly, will not appear on their healthier counterparts such as Glaceau Smart Water or Vitamin Water.


Expect to see a wider range of brands using the Rugby World Cup as a promotional tool to advertise their products and services.


Image and quote Sources (in order of appearance)