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How The Big Brands Leveraged Wimbledon and the World Cup


With Wimbledon and the World Cup being two of the world’s most famous sporting events, they are lucrative opportunities for marketers to get their brands in front of a global audience. From ad campaigns to competitions, limited edition collections to in-store activations, marketers of the big brands have been making effective use of their budgets to associate themselves with these events and engage with their audience, in hopes that they will raise brand awareness and more importantly, get a return on investment.

Summer 2018 has been a busy one for the marketing industry so far, with both of these tournaments taking place at once. Now that the winners have been announced and the buzz has died down, we decided to take a look at what the big brands did to capitalize on these major sports events.



Budweiser kicked off their global advertising campaign “Light up the Fifa World Cup” with a futuristic video showing AI drones delivering bottles of Bud to World Cup viewers across the world. The video contains no dialogue and almost looks like a WALL-E movie, making it easy for a global audience to understand and enjoy.

Budweiser was also an official sponsor of the World Cup and the #ManOfTheMatch trophy (shown above with Cristiano Ronaldo). As soon as the first half of the matches ended, fans could vote for their chosen player on Twitter, and the winner would be announced with Budweiser-branded video ads and 3D images of the players.

Being such a large company with so many global divisions, Budweiser activated a wide variety of experiential marketing campaigns across the world, including this double-decker #BudBoat that floated on the Moscow River and offered food, drink, entertainment, viewing screens and even a jacuzzi to fans.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren has been the official outfitter of Wimbledon since 2006, dressing all of the on-court staff, producing limited edition clothing collections and inviting fashion influencers to watch the games from their VIP suite. To kick off their Wimbledon marketing activities this year, Ralph Lauren transformed a vintage bus into a mobile customization shop that parked near the tournament. This playful, experiential concept allowed customers to print their favorite Wimbledon-inspired graphics on to a polo shirt of their choice.

While the on-court uniforms remain the same, the limited edition clothing collections change each year and are available online. This year, Ralph Lauren received a little more press than usual after Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, was pictured wearing a striped blue and white Ralph Lauren shirt. This caused a stir amongst fashion publication which drove an immense amount of traffic to the website, and caused the shirt to sell out almost immediately.

British Airways

British Airways partnered with tennis star, Kyle Edmund to create this ad campaign. They served him the ‘ultimate challenge’ at a state of the art training facility at Heathrow, tasking him to navigate his way off the ground, around the skies, and back to earth again in a flight deck simulator. BA also showed its support for Kyle ahead of the competition by having a good luck message placed on a 787-9 Dreamliner which was unveiled in a photoshoot with Kyle wearing his newly released official Wimbledon kit.

Although British Airways didn’t create an official ad campaign for the World Cup, they did engage in some effective social media and content marketing. “Football’s coming home” is a popular phrase that the English team says often in hopes that they will win the World Cup, so the air carrier printed a ticket for a passenger named ‘Football’ and declared it will be arriving ‘home’ from Russia. This clever stunt was a success – it went viral on social media and was talked about across the world. To follow up from this clever piece of content, BA offered a call-to-action in the form of a discount code ‘STILLPROUD’ after the England team was knocked out of the tournament.


To kick off their World Cup marketing, Adidas recruited a star-studded cast for their “Create the Answer” ad campaign that champions creativity. The video shows these famous sporting figures and musicians in action, but how does this link to the World Cup, you wonder? Adidas claims to believe in the power of an athlete’s imagination and using creativity to make a difference in their game, life, and world.

As well as being official sponsors of the 2018 World Cup, Adidas also offered an extensive collection of products associated with the tournament. From the Spain World Cup jersey to the Telstar 18 official match ball, the Adidas collection included everything from shorts, to training pants, to scarfs, to socks and sleeveless tees. Each design was emblazoned with the mark of its home country, the Federation’s logo or both.
Not only did Adidas provide apparel for the World Cup, but they also dressed some of the players in the Wimbledon tennis tournament, include the female winner, Angelique Kerber. By dressing influential sports players in global sports events, the Adidas brand was shown to millions of TV viewers across the world.


Häagen-Dazs partnered with Bulgarian tennis star Grigor Dimitrov for their Wimbledon marketing activities this year. Their ‘Champion vs Challenger’ campaign aimed to introduce Dimitrov’s favorite flavor, Cookies & Cream, as the disruptive new challenger to the traditional Wimbledon champion flavor, Strawberries & Cream.

The aim of the campaign was to find out the No.1 flavor of the summer, and it It included a series of content videos on social media, encouraging people to engage with the brand by choosing their favorite flavor.
To mark the collaboration, the brand also introduced a limited-edition Cookies & Cream stick bar designed by Grigor himself, launched exclusively for Wimbledon to further drive buzz and rival Strawberries & Cream head-on for the duration to become the must-have accessory of The Championships.


In this ad campaign titled ‘We’re With You’, McDonald’s positions itself as a supporter of the supporters, shown in the video through a diverse montage of scenarios from countries ranging from Brazil to Sweden, where McDonald’s has the food sorted for the fans who are preparing to watch 90 minutes of action unfold right before their eyes.

Being an official sponsor of the World Cup gave McDonald’s the opportunity to share the thrill of the global sports event through special creative promotions, contests, advertisements, and in-store activations all across the world. For example, in the US, McDonald’s surprised a group of children with a trip to Russia to be official player escorts, whereas customers in the United Arab Emirates received free World Cup horns when ordering through McDelivery. In countries such as Brazil and South Korea, they introduced world cup themed menu items. All of these promotions are part of the company’s “I’m lovin’ it” strategy to create stronger, more relevant connections with its customers.