World Cup Special - Marcus Brewster

07 Apr 2010

Marcus Brewster, founder of PR agency Marcus Brewster Publicity and a judge for the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards, explains how brands can cut through the clutter to make a PR impact at this summer’s World Cup.

Q. How big an impact has the World Cup had on the level of marketing investment in sport in South Africa?

It has not had a tremendous effect on sport marketing median spend per se, but what it has certainly done is highlight the commercial aspects of sport, from endorsement through to hospitality – indeed, it has had such impact that the UNWTO has just hosted a global summit on sport and mega events in Sandton, focusing on commercial and downstream marketing of mega sporting events.

Q. Has the tournament introduced new brands and business sectors into South African sport?

South African sport was already well established commercially come the World Cup – however, in terms of actual commercial application, from rights through to sponsorship leverage, South Africans have certainly taken a leaf from the FIFA textbook.

Q. Are we likely to see a lot of ambush marketing activity from brands without official World Cup ties?

Attempts at ambush marketing are inevitable. Where there is a will, there is a way – and more than likely an official to police it. What is vital though is that South Africa shows its commitment to the protection of sponsorship rights as this, in the medium to long term, will position the country well for future events.

Q. From a PR perspective, how do you expect brands to cut through the clutter of messaging that comes with such a global event as the World Cup?

Lateral thinking, and moving a bit outside the football cliché. There are several ancillary communication platforms and themes available that won’t only cut through the clutter, but add positioning and sponsorship leverage for brands as well. Not every piece of communication has to directly be linked to football – carefully constructed communication that could tie back to the event, in this instance, will ensure reach outside of the noise.

Q. Do you think that many sponsors will continue to invest in South African sport after the World Cup or is it seen as more of an ad hoc spend?

Sport is ultimately a vehicle for audience reach, and investment in sport by commercial entities for brands is determined by the value that said reach represents. This is the attraction of the large audience that the football World Cup attracts. So I would say yes, this is ad hoc.

Q. What impact do you think the World Cup will have on South African domestic football?

Hopefully the realisation that there is tremendous value in commercialising football, but more than that, in this country, football - in particular South African football - has never crossed the racial divide. If nothing else, the World Cup will build a bridge between South African football’s traditional fan base and new supporters.

Q. As one of the judges for the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards you’ll be reviewing a number of World Cup campaigns among the entries. What kind of results will you be looking for these campaigns to have produced?

Bottom line impact. In marketing communication we can also speak of a triple bottom line impact in terms of achieving commercial or rands and cents objectives, positive reputational bottom line gains and thirdly return on investment when speaking of clear column centimetres or sponsorship leverage/branding gains.

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