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The business of football: How British companies are responding to World Cup fever

With the World Cup in full swing, bosses across the country are deciding the extent to which they should embrace football fever – or, indeed, ignore it altogether.
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The number of World Cup related searches has rocketed, according to data from Google, and there are nearly 10,000,000 search results awaiting anyone searching for “World Cup sweepstake” information.

But what does this sports-mania look like in business terms? We asked business owners from across the country to share their insights into how they are choosing to handle the popularity of “The Beautiful Game”.

An overwhelming number chose to go with the flow, tapping into the numerous opportunities it represented instead of ignoring the game altogether. 

Embracing the camaraderie

James Calder, CEO of Distinct Recruitment, claimed: “The World Cup obviously takes the country by storm, even those who aren’t typically into football get involved. We don’t want to take that sense of pride and spirit away from employees when they spend a good majority of their time at work, putting in their own shift here away from the pitch.

“We’ve got a large TV on the wall that we have on all day for news updates and team presentations. Currently, we’ve got the World Cup on. This doesn’t mean we’re all sat staring at the game not doing any work, but it does allow those who want to keep an eye on the event to take a couple of minutes every now and then to stay up to date.

“Employees will be keeping on top of the scores on their computers or phones anyway, so at least having a communal TV showing the games makes the experience more inclusive and helps to set a relaxed working atmosphere.

Our World Cup office sweepstakes were actually live-streamed on our LinkedIn account so clients and candidates alike could see their consultants’ faces when they pulled out their teams. Overall, I think it helps with socialising among staff and clients when we can chat about the biggest TV event currently on (second only to Love Island) and it is always a great icebreaker.”

Increasing the competition

“At Redweb, we’re taking part in the usual sweepstakes, but this year our CEO set up a Super 6 league,” said Michaela Dudfield, marketing manager at Redweb. “To get everyone more involved he’s offered the winner of the league a day’s annual leave, and two runners up half a day’s leave.

“We have a few TVs around the office with the football playing throughout the day and we also arranged for a keg of beer for people to drink whilst watching the England V Tunisia game in our very own bar.”

Getting active

Aaron Dicks, founder of Impression, suggested football is a great way to keep fit. “So,” he said, “we thought, why not use the World Cup as an excuse to run our own inter-agency league? For our own employees, it’s a great way to get moving and stay healthy. It’s also brilliant for team morale (especially when we win, which we often do!). 

Being seen to be active within our own local business community is also good for our brand, so it’s a win-win situation.

“We’ve got a lot of really sporty people in the business, so will be looking out for similar opportunities in the future.”

Marketing opportunity

“The World Cup always creates a buzz, whether it’s people loving the sport and embracing it wholeheartedly, or people questioning why a simple football game should have such an impact on our daily lives!” explained Aaron Inglethorpe, design and branding consultant at Discount Displays.

“Savvy businesses will recognise the power of emotion and look to capitalise on it. From a marketing point of view, tapping into the World Cup is a great way to create engagement, so consider how you can even just hint at football within your latest advert, or how you might yourself organise a game-watching event at your office and invite along customers and prospects.

“From a broader business perspective, supporting football fans by introducing a slightly early finish on the day of a match can be a great way to boost morale.”

Exploit the events both on and off the field

Paul Fox, CEO of LeTou, said: “The World Cup offers an opportunity unlike any other for businesses to try and exploit the events both on and off the field for marketing gain.

“With the tournament attracting so many fans and consumers from all over the world, any exposure that a brand can generate is likely to have a very positive impact on the business.”

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About Author

Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is the deputy editor of Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

Real Business