Scientists from the University of Münster, Germany, have found that consumers find it more difficult to recall the advertised brand in a TV commercial that refers to football or the World Cup, and even find it harder to identify with the advertised brand at all.
When even the bottle of my generic orange juice features a scantily clad samba dancer (see photo), you know the football cup in Brazil is in full swing. However, research shows that this doesn’t necessary help drive sales, as consumers get distracted by the reference to the omni-present sporting event.
On the other hand, consumers might not remember the brand that well, but if they do, they are more likely to recommend or buy the brand if it has been advertised in a football setting. At least these are the findings of a study by Volker Gehrau (link in German) from the Münster Institute of Communication Studies, which had 440 people watch TV ads with and without reference to football. This means that you will probably weaken the impact of a good marketing campaign by linking it to football, but if your marketing was pretty weak from the start it will at least be better to convert the few consumers you reach into buyers.
The study’s conclusion resonates with a recent survey among communication executives by the German marketing trade magazine W&V (link also in German): Only one fifth believes that a World Cup reference will give marketing campaigns an extra boost. Does this mean marketers should forego football entirely? Not necessarily. The FIFA World Cup is arguably the most emotional sporting event in the world. What matters, though, is that marketing efforts around the event are credible, authentic and engaging. Just adding some samba music and dancers to your TV ads (or orange juice bottle) is probably not going to achieve anything.