BBC World Cup campaign

World Cup 2018 will have started for many marketers after the final whistle blew in Rio in 2014. I know it did for our BBC Sport marketing team. For the BBC it’s such an important event for us to get right for so many audiences and for our brand, so the planning that goes into it starts pretty far out. One tournament ends, the next one begins, with important diversions for the Olympics, FA Cup, Euro’s, Wimbledon and 6 Nations along the way.

In the words of our new national oracle, Gareth Southgate, “Sport has the power to unite people”. As the nation’s broadcaster we take the special privilege we are given to inspire, unite and entertain the country through sport really seriously.

The expectations of the BBC are huge and it’s not a straightforward challenge. I have a few World Cup campaigns under my belt and you soon get to know the pitfalls as well as the opportunities:

• We can hope, but we can’t rely on our home nations a) qualifying or b) clearing the group stages, (this isn’t pessimism, it’s pragmatism borne out of experience) so any idea has to be nation neutral.

• We can’t rely on individual players’ participation or progress – who knows months or even weeks out who will make the team or avoid injury? So we can’t make it about the sporting megastars.

• We need enough campaign longevity to sustain interest over eight weeks without boring or annoying the socks off the fans. This requires a visual world and not just an ad – hence the reason we often brief animation.

• We need to convey the provenance of the host nation in a way that doesn’t succumb to cliché or controversy.

• We’re the BBC and as such impartial so there can be no whiff of tub-thumping.

READ MORE: Mark Ritson: Even in 2026, most people will watch the World Cup on TV

The marketing brief is therefore tight but still presents teams with an incredible opportunity. We know we’ll get more diverse and young audiences into our platforms than at any other time during a World Cup,…