Sponsors have been clamouring for months to generate maximum value
from the huge amounts of money they have invested in being associated
with France 98. The 12 global sponsors have paid around pounds 12.5
million each and there are also eight official England team sponsors who
have committed around pounds 1 million each for association with the
However, it is no longer enough to spend a fortune on sponsorship in
isolation. Mike Reynolds, director of the Institute of Sports
Sponsorship, says: ’Buying the rights to be an official sponsor is only
Companies want and need to exploit this. They spend anything between a
further 100 to 200 per cent of budget on supporting it with advertising
and media relations.’
According to Reynolds, media relations accounts for a growing chunk of
this support spend. Some PR firms say that although UK PR budgets for
France ’98 are not as high as Euro ’96 because the tournament is not
being held in the UK, they are still significant. Spend by large
sponsors on UK media relations averages between pounds 100,000 and
pounds 150,000 for the month’s duration of the tournament. This can
increase significantly if special events are organised, such as Adidas’
projection of images of England squad members Graeme Le Saux, Paul Ince
and David Beckham onto the White Cliffs of Dover last weekend to
generate media coverage.
In return for their investment sponsors expect a meticulous PR
Coca-Cola, an official tournament sponsor and sponsor of the England
team, has been working with Cohn and Wolfe on a detailed media strategy.
Activity began two months before the tournament to get the brand
associated with issues connected to France 98 before the market became
Cohn and Wolfe has a 13-strong World Cup team working across three
sponsors - Canon, Coca-Cola and Braun.
Sarah Gower, PR manager at official sponsor Adidas UK, says: ’This works
on different levels. We’ve used ad exploitation, generating media
coverage on the back of the David Beckham ad. We’ve also attempted to
gain coverage through news features.’
Five weeks ago Adidas turned the Eurostar into a giant version of one of
its football boots.
During the tournament media relations can be more problematic. Agencies,
while developing proactive media strategies are also prepared to react
swiftly to events on and off the pitch as they happen.
Major sponsors such as Coca-Cola and Adidas are working with agencies on
developing media relations ideas to find a link with every event from
England winning a game to a player endorsing a product becoming injured.
Cohn and Wolfe managing director Martin Thomas says: ’We’ve even had to
develop ideas for the unlikely event of Scotland winning the
Adidas, whose in-house team of three is working closely with agency Hill
and Knowlton, has already made use of its prepeared statements. Paul
Gascoigne is sponsored by Adidas and the firm had to react quickly when
he was dropped from the team. Gower says: ’We’re also ready to react to
something like Beckham getting injured or if he scores an amazing
The official sponsors share the benefit of a team at football’s
governing body, FIFA, dedicated to combing the press for any companies
trying to hi-jack attention by passing themselves off as official
FIFA has a communications team of between 60 and 70 to oversee sponsors
and other issues. It has a main communications centre in Paris, plus
media relations teams at each of the ten grounds. Its teams were on the
ground well in advance of the tournament and it has hired dozens of
extra freelance media relations officers to help its in-house
FIFA has a detailed media strategy in place and demands that each team
provides representatives for the world’s press for its daily media
Such events involve close liaison with member associations, such as the
English Football Association, which has its own communications team of
four at the tournament, led by director of public affairs David
Steve Double, the FA’s media relations manager, says: ’Our aim is to
make things as smooth as possible for the England team and players. We
also handle events off the pitch with supporters.’
The FA retains firm control, some sports journalists argue too firm, of
the England team’s communications with the press. During the tournament
it will allow press access to a member of the coaching staff plus two or
three pre-selected players who will also give interviews.
This tightly-orchestrated strategy enables the FA to channel messages
and to react in an organised manner to events. The FAwill also work
closely with the French police, British transport police and the Home
Office on issues connected to fans travelling to the tournament.
As millions of fans settle back to enjoy the football, there will be
hundreds of UK PR specialists working furiously behind-the-scenes, all
with their own reasons for willing England and Scotland to progress
beyond the first stage.
There are 12 global world cup sponsors and nine sponsors of the England
team, and at least seven UK agencies working with the England
Each sponsor will spend an average of pounds 100,000-pounds 150,000 on
UK media relations for France 98 with extra for projects. This means
that in the UK the tournament sponsors and the England team sponsors are
spending roughly pounds 2 million on media relations.
The 12 global sponsors of the World Cup are Adidas, Anheuser Busch,
Canon, Coca Cola, Fuji film, General Motors, Gillette, JVC, Mars,
Mastercard, McDonald’s and Philips.
England is sponsored by main sponsor Green Flag plus eight other
companies or brands - Ariel, BP, Canon, Carlsberg, Coca Cola, One 2 One,
Snickers, and Umbro.