New York
+1 (212) 858-9700
+44 (203) 734-1378

FIFA World Cup 2018 – How Budweiser Overcame The Bleak Commercial Opportunities That existed in Russia

Posted by Daniel Oyston On July 04, 2018 0 Comments

It’s June/July 2018 and the world is going Football (Soccer for some of my Australian counterparts) mad about the FIFA World Cup in Russia. There has been a heap written and said about how different this world cup will be for commercial partners given the limited ability to capitalize on a ‘commercial culture’ like Russia’s. This is where I have been blown away with some of the activation, content, and advertising executed by Budweiser (an official FIFA partner). I think can all take something out of their innovative approach.

Budweiser has been an official partner of FIFA (and the World Cup) since the 1986 edition. With the digital age and dramatic advances in technology e.g. drones, this has resulted in a really engaging partnership at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Whilst there is a heap of other commercial partners that spring to mind, such as Hisense, Wanda, Hyundai, and Kia (touché for being able to sign TWO partners from the same category), it is the Budweiser campaign that I wanted to highlight and identify elements we all could consider for our own commercial programs:


1. Global Campaign, Targeted Markets – Light Up the FIFA World Cup

Being a global brand, Budweiser does have the luxury of being able to take a global approach to their World Cup Campaign. With this, however, comes the challenge of being relevant in a number of completely different local markets. They can’t just rely upon making a splash at the physical event but instead must tailor a series of individual campaigns based on the different regions they want to target.

I can’t help but bring to your attention to the drones video that was used to launch this global campaign …



Not only is this an engaging piece of content but is applicable to any football fan, fan of technology, and fan of a great event experience. The subsequent local campaigns have utilized local talent, a local feel (location, characters, etc.), and been able to then leverage this global campaign of “Lighting Up The World Cup”.

This vision can be utilized at any level when working with commercial partners. Ensure you have a ‘bigger picture’ mentality whilst at the same time making the partnership relevant to other stakeholders and smaller markets.


2. Fan engagement in public places

A Budweiser vending machine that dispensed product based on fans’ volume of cheering and those that showed the most passion received tickets to the World Cup. Watch this to understand how truly engaging this content was.



This isn’t the first time that a brand has executed a public activation, or what might be called a “surprise and delight”, but the way that a variety of different regions and fans generate such a truly engaging reaction is so infectious! Budweiser has been able to create their own content, at a high production value, but at the same time provide the opportunity for more organic content to be created and shared by members of the public.

Finally, not only does an activation, and subsequent content like this, create brand ambassadors out of the successful individuals, but the same is true for other members of the public that have witnessed the activation and even those who have seen it via a social medium (just like me).

This premise of a public activation can be applied at all levels. Granted, not necessarily with the technology and production values of what we see above but by doing our own little ‘surprise and delight’, and providing content that is worthy of the public getting excited about, we open the door to truly engaging organic content to be created and shared.


3. Leveraging current fans

Grab two of the most passionate football fans, put them in a glass box with headphones, fill the room with an over-excited crowd, put a game of football on the big screen, and ask the fans in the box not to make a noise. Sound a bit complicated? Just watch …


Another outstanding piece of engaging content has been created and one that isn’t regionally bound. Further, not only is it relevant to every single sporting fan in the world, but it also has a touch of irony and creativity that makes us all glad we aren’t in their position … but we want to be there at exactly the same time!

This content has linked the “Light Up the Cup” campaign together, engaging local fans, utilizing the gimmick cup that is part of the initial launch, creating an environment that is so attractive, and all at once replicating what Budweiser wish to embody - the ‘life of the party’.

We can all take elements of content like this by simply utilizing those engaged fans that we all have. Create an environment where their passion can be celebrated and look for ways a brand can help to further enhance that passion and experience - it doesn’t have to involve a glass box!


Tip of the iceberg

All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the whole Budweiser World Cup campaign (not forgetting it is supported with a heap of above-the-line advertising to start with). But what I truly love is that Budweiser is becoming an integral part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup by creating a genuine connection between their product and the outcome of enjoying the FIFA World Cup. They are linking “Buds” to the game day experience while also demonstrating how Budweiser can heighten the in-home experience.

I can’t wait to see what the remainder of the FIFA World Cup has in store for us, not just on the pitch, but in terms of commercial partnerships as well. It would truly be nirvana for the commercial manager in me to have been able to work with a Budweiser of the world.

For now, I will have to settle with admiring what they are achieving in 2018!

Go England! (I say that with hesitation after Australia has been knocked out 😊).



Sam Irvine // General Manager - Product

Sam is passionate about helping organisations maximize their sponsorship programs and has worked with brands and rights holders at all levels. Sam is always looking for ways to improve himself and loves working with people who give as much as they take.


Want More?

Did you find this blog useful? Subscribe to receive more blogs, just like this one, direct to your inbox.

* indicates required

[gravityform id="9" title="false" description="false"]

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic

Posts by Topic

see all