Skip to Content

4 Fortune 500 companies buying into the World Cup

As you watch the games today, keep your eyes peeled for the ads. Layered underneath the music that beckons come one, come all to the World Cup is the ka-ching of money. According to a McKinsey study, FIFA stands to make $1.4 billion from sponsorship deals, and spending is up 40% from the 2010 games in South Africa. Although companies won’t disclose their spending, 30-second ad spots for the ESPN final are expected to cost around $300,000. Sponsoring a global event like the World Cup is particularly enticing to any company looking to make headway overseas. That fact is not lost on the Fortune 500. Here are the four Fortune 500 sponsors of the World Cup and a look at what kinds of messages they are trying to send to consumers the world over.

Visa

Fortune 500 Rank: 238
2013 Revenue: $11.8 billion
Campaign: Everywhere You Want to Be

…is the World Cup where global unity triumphs, whether you’re a clown, rugby fan, Nobel Laureate, or Zidane cheering the French in an Italian restaurant.

Visa (V) is here to tell us the world is united in its rivalry, driving home the message that the company is global in its scope. Everywhere you want to be is a revamped version of Visa’s 21-year-old “It’s everywhere you want to be” theme, which was shelved in 2006.

And Visa is making good on its promise. As part of its World Cup sponsorship, Visa provided all of the payment infrastructure for the games, installing 3,000 point of sale terminals and 75 ATMs at the venue. “Every time we measure brand value after the World Cup, it increases,” said Chief Brand Officer Antonio Lucio. These days, everywhere includes the digital world, but no worries, Visa is there too. Its shifted over 35% of its marketing budget to digital and social. And for the World Cup, Visa gave filmmakers across the world Visa cards pre-loaded with $25,000 so they could film fans.

McDonald’s

Fortune 500 Rank: 106
2013 Revenue: $28.1 billion
Campaign: Gol!

For a company attempting to conjure a healthier image, being a longtime sponsor of the World Cup continues to be a good move. The McDonald’s (MCD) ad focuses on fitness for a variety of age groups: a young boy, a middle-aged woman, and an elderly man. And the cast of characters are all unified by one thing: a passion for soccer (and crazy talent to go with it).

With “Oh By Jingo” playing in the background, the aims of the ad are simple, too: keep the focus on the football, not the food. In fact, save for a sign near the ad’s end with a soccer ball and a McDonald’s logo in the middle, there’s no mention of the fast food giant.

The subtle branding plays into the company’s desire to expand overseas and, as with Visa, is reminiscent of McDonalds’ 2005 Healthy Living campaign, as it continues to face pressure about the nutritional benefits of its food.

Coca-Cola

Fortune 500 Rank: 58
2013 Revenue: $46.9 billion
Campaign: The World’s Cup

One World, One Game…and one drink. Coca-Cola (KO) wants you to know the World Cup is for everyone, as the ad focuses on scenes of four teams from Japan, Eastern Europe, the Amazon, and Palestine preparing for the World Cup.

This year’s World Cup campaign is the largest in Coke’s history and will reach 175 markets. Coke aims to double its business by the end of the decade, and the key is wooing millennials. On a practical level, Coke just rolled out its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, which has been introduced in China, Japan, Europe, and Russia. Coke bottles will sport the top 250 first names in America, inviting customers to buy personalized bottles. Coke gets the point across by labeling bigger bottles “Family” and “Friends.”

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson expects strong earnings in 2016.

Fortune 500 Rank: 39
2013 Revenue: $71.3 billion
Campaign: Care Inspires Care

Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) wants to cast itself as the company that cares. An ad campaign dubbed Care Inspires Care fits in with its Healthy 2015 goals to address corporate citizenship for the first time. But a World Cup advertisement with little mention of soccer (except for a logo at the bottom of the screen) comes off as a bit dodgy. Johnson & Johnson, the official health-care sponsor of the World Cup, takes this route in its “Once Upon a Care” ad. Nearly three minutes long, featuring the children’s book author Patricia Larking, the ad attempts to answer the question, “Are we doing enough to inspire our children to care?” For a company actively pursuing an emphasis on family, it makes sense – lack of soccer aside.