Branding / Commercialisation / Marketing / Merchandise

World Cup Watching


Professor Simon Chadwick

Posted: May 20, 2018



A brand is: “Shorthand marketing messages that create emotional bonds with consumers. Brands are composed of intangible elements related to its specific promise, personality, and positioning and tangible components having identifiable representation including logos, graphics, colors and sounds. A brand creates perceived value for consumers through its personality in a way that makes it stand out from other similar products. Its story is intricately intertwined with the public’s perception and consistently provides consumers with a secure sense that they know what they’re paying for. In a world where every individual is also a media entity, your consumers own your brand (as it always was).” (Cohen, 2011)


Brands battles are set to be played-out across the World Cup as a whole, with country brands, team brands, player brands, sponsor brands, ambushing or trolling brands, and sportswear brands all vying for a piece of the action. This summer, branding is therefore set to be a hot topic: 1) because most of the brands engaged with the tournament will be seeking to generate a financial return from it; and 2) because the brand battle is just as likely to be fought out between nations, as it is between corporations.


The World Cup is likely to be a brand festival, layered with battles and contests for supremacy. The tournament itself is a brand, and will be seeking to reinforce its position as one of the world’s most important mega-event brands. In turn, Brand Russia will no doubt be seeking to position itself in a particular way, and communicate a set of values that it wants the world to associate with it. National team brands will be in the spotlight too – German efficiency, Spanish flair, Brazilian style and so forth. Otherwise, players, sponsors, commercial partners, broadcasters, ambushers etc. will all be going head-to-head in their attempts to attract eyeballs and generate positive associations. The national team shirt confrontation is a especially compelling one this year, with a retro vibe dominating the design aesthetic. Which brands make it to the latter stages of the World Cup is always of interest, especially given the commercial windfall that is likely to follow for the dominate brand(s).


Which brands will dominate at the World Cup, how will this be achieved, why, and with what consequence?

What is driving the retro sportswear chic that appears to be have been a key driver of the shirts to be worn by national teams at this year’s tournament?

Which nation will win the World Cup in purely branding terms (not on the field of play)?


Battle of the Brands: Who’ll be the winners of Russia 2018? 

How brands are hoping to score for this year’s World Cup

Russia is flexing its sports sponsorship muscles

World Cup kits: Russia 2018 is going to look pretty retro


How Russia and adidas prepare for the World Cup 2018

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Official Poster unveiled



About Professor Simon Chadwick

Simon is Professor of Sports Enterprise at Salford University in Manchester (UK), where he is also a Co-Director of the Centre for Sports Business. He is also a Founding Co-Director of the China Soccer Observatory and a Senior Fellow of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham (UK). He has worked in football across the world, for various organisations including companies, federations, and governments. He tweets via @Prof_Chadwick