Euro 2024 is not just about football on the pitch. Brands use this period of captive audience for their own benefit. Either way, as Daniel Sproul writes, there’s no escaping football fever.

The summer of sport kicks off in earnest on 14 June with Euro 2024 – and brands across Europe and in the UK will be tapping into ‘football fever’.

The tournament itself only lasts for four weeks. But with anticipation already building for one of the most competitive tournaments in a long time, fans and marketers’ attention will really dial up after the Uefa Champions League wraps up on 1 June, before the tournament kicks off in Munich. Essentially offering brands a six-week condensed period of activity around the tournament.

Euro 2024 gives brands a valuable opportunity to reach an inflated football audience – not just ‘core’ football fans but also ‘mass-eventers’ – those who only tune in to the major tournaments. Major tournament match viewing figures feature highly in most watched programmes across the year, and I fully expect this to be the case in 2024.

Euro interest

With potential economic benefits for the UK should England and Scotland progress, brands will also be hoping for competing nations to reach the later stages, ensuring Home Nation fan interest remains high for as long as possible.

Brands will generally fall into three key categories: official tournament partners, official partners of competing nations (England and Scotland) and ‘ambush’ brands; those with no official partnerships but leveraging football hype moments through their communications and marketing.

Whichever category brands fall into, there will undoubtedly be a lot of noise and clutter to cut through. So, any campaigns during this period will need to stand out in a busy marketplace.

Official Uefa Euro 2024 partners have invested heavily in their associations, so expect an upweight in activity and integrated campaigns across all marketing channels, leveraging their official association and tournament IP. These brands will take a longer-term approach to their marketing activity.

Lidl, for example, has already launched its new sponsorship platform, ‘We’re On Your Team’. Hellmann’s, the official BBQ partner of Euro 2024, has announced Jack Grealish as the face of their campaign, activating through the line and even creating the ultimate ‘Grealish Burger’. And official Euro 2024 partner HiSense, recently announced that Spanish goalkeeping legend Iker Casillas has joined Manuel Neuer as a brand ambassador.

Partners of competing nations will lean into the excitement, passion, ambition, and national pride they share with the fans. They’ll leverage their exclusive access to key players to drive association and deliver their brand messages. We’re expecting partner activity to really kick off in early June – so keep your eyes peeled.

Ambush brands

Ambush brands will be taking a slightly different approach. While these brands won’t be able to leverage any specific tournament or team IP, we expect big brands to lead with general football creative across all comms and all channels throughout the tournament.

Natural football ‘brands’ (e.g. Nike, Puma) and those who can tap into the cultural moment and fan behaviours (e.g. beer, food takeaway services) will upweight their activity during the tournament. These brands will often use high-profile ambassadors to cut through the noise, using their association with fan’s favourite players to stand out from the crowd. For example, Nike’s 2022 FIFA World cup 2022 ad and Pepsi’s recently launched 2024 ad.

In the UK, linear TV is going to be an important channel for all brands to target, specifically advertising around the big matches on ITV. Every match will be broadcast on free-to-air TV which has unrivalled audience reach. And major tournament moments regularly feature in the annual top 10 most-viewed broadcasts. The Euro 2020 final between England and Italy attracted over 31m viewers in the UK. But this huge reach comes at an inflated cost. If England progress through to the semi-finals, brands should expect to pay well over £600k for a premium half time 30s ad spot.

Tactical branding

While TV advertising will predominantly focus on the key moments around big matches, brands will revert to social media for their always-on activity. Again, paid social costs are likely to be inflated during the tournament period, and brands will be competing to break through in a cluttered space.

We’ll also see a lot of ‘tactical’ media spend from brands, particularly across out of home advertising (OOH) where I expect to see many brands leading with football creative across the UK’s most impactful, high-value media sites throughout the tournament – whether they are official partners, nation partners or brands tapping in to ‘football fever’.

FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands and retailers will look to maximise points of sale – from on-pack ticket promotions to brands leveraging their partnership rights (e.g. Bud Light and England, Coca-Cola and Euro 2024) or supermarkets pushing ‘the ultimate viewing’ deals for football fans and families.

Euro 2024 promises to be an exciting tournament and offers a major marketing moment for brands. Whether you are a football fan or not, there will be no escaping ‘football fever’ – I for one cannot wait! 

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