France and Croatia go head to head this Sunday in a battle to win the most prestigious prize in sport – the FIFA World Cup trophy. But football teams are not the only ones who have been trying to score big at the tournament. Brands are also in it to score by being more and more creative with their marketing and PR activations. The ultimate goals being to create an emotional connection with their audiences and increase brand engagement.

Kia Champ into the Arena

Hyundai / Kia Motors, as official automotive partner of the FIFA World Cup 2018, is having its cars and branding present at every corners by supplying 424 vehicles for official use in Russia, with K9 luxury sedan and SUV models transporting players, match officials and VIPs.

Fans have not been forgotten. For those who wish to emulate their heroes, Kia started its own tournament back in March – the ‘Champ into the Arena’ – offering amateur footballers around the world the opportunity to participate in a ‘five-a-side’ tournament in Moscow – where 16 nations went head-to-head for international glory with a chance to be invited to receive their trophy from one of the world’s best footballers.

“The 2018 FIFA World Cup is a really important global event for millions of football fans all over the world,” Jeong Won-jeong, President of Kia Motors Russia said. “We are excited to be involved in making the 2018 FIFA World Cup a success, by bringing people closer to the Kia brand through this major event.”

“Creativity is the Answer” for adidas

Creativity is the answer. And we can’t agree more. Using the world’s biggest moment in sport as the backdrop – adidas has re-engineered the traditional campaign model through personal storytelling, bringing together 56 of the world’s most influential Creators across sport culture, including Leo Messi, Gabriel Jesus, Caroline Wozniacki, Karlie Kloss, Pharrell Williams.

adidas believes in the power of an athlete’s imagination and using creativity to make a difference in their game, life and world. In the Campaign titled Creativity is The Answer, adidas aims to inspire Creators across sport culture to be courageous, unexpected and to shape their own reality.

Leo Messi added: “On the pitch, a moment of creativity can transform a game – you have to see the things that others can’t see and take chances others won’t. Creativity sets players apart.” 

One of the live activations, set in London’s Shoreditch, offered young football fans the chance to share their creativity. The venue featured a football pitch and had creators workshops, live music space, EA Sports FIFA lounge and of course a World Cup screening room. Visitors could create customised t-shirts and design a future adidas Glitch boot to be put into production.

Ryan Morlan, VP Brand Communications at adidas said: “We have re-engineered the traditional advertising campaign – the way only the Creator Sports Brand can – by creating endless inspiration through unique and personal content. We are co-creating our story of sport and creativity with our consumers by reacting and responding to their preferences, attitudes, passions and geographies. Athletes in New York will get a different experience from those in London.”

Coca Cola’s first virtual brand ambassador

Finally, we cannot speak of brand activations without mentioning Coca-Cola, one of the longest-standing corporate partners of FIFA since 1978.

As usual, the Atlanta-based company released several campaigns, but this year for the first time in video game history, Coca-Cola and EA Sports introduced the first advertising spot within a game itself. Fans playing FIFA 18 in ‘Journey mode’ will see Alex Hunter (fictional character in the FIFA game series) sign a sponsorship contract with Coca-Cola, hence becoming the first virtual brand ambassador.

We are seeing here what the future of influencers could be, experimenting with new ways and cleverly targeting an eSports audience set to reach 600 million by 2020.

Now, football is coming home. But which home? Paris or Zagreb? The answer on Sunday 15th July.