FIFA World Cup Cause Buzz Falls Flat

Sports have an uncanny ability to unite communities, capture attention and inspire goodwill, so major sporting events are a natural fit for cause-related messages. Which is why we are disappointed that so far during the FIFA World Cup – the sporting event boasting the world’s largest audience – the only buzz we’re hearing is coming from vuvuzelas.



With some digging, we found Coca-Cola’s “Youth Talent Development Initiative” in South Africa and FIFA’s “20 Centres for 2010” – an effort launched in 2007 which aims to promote public health, education and football in disadvantaged communities across Africa. But we were hard-pressed to find word of these efforts in major U.S. media. And what about on-the-ground or online cause messages? Those were few and far between as well – most created by NGOs.

No one has followed the topic closer than blogger John Kim on his site, World Cup CSR. For over a year he’s been tracking any and all corporate commitments to the greater good affiliated with the event. His conclusion? Nil. Kim tweets, “Fifa's Centre's 4 Hope R the closest things 2 sponsor related CSR initiatives I've seen while here: disappointed.”

Is this a sign of a trend? The global meeting in South Africa is not the first major sporting event with lackluster cause tie-ins. The 2010 Super Bowl, which despite the hoopla over Pepsi’s departure, lacked social messaging almost entirely during the actual game. This was a decline from the array of cause campaigns we observed in 2009. Prior to that, the 2008 Summer Olympics seemed to lack cause messages aimed at American viewers, as well.

Despite the immense resources put into these events, brands with an established cause or CR presence have not been using the world stage to communicate their commitments and to activate consumers. The World Cup will stand as yet another missed opportunity and overall a disappointment for cause marketers.

What do you think? Did you see something we didn’t? Post the World Cup cause messages you’ve seen by commenting below.


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