It’s worth bearing in mind that Fifa has more members than the UN; a powerful stat to underline the global reach of football.
The World Cup 2010 had 3.2 billion TV viewers or looked at another way reached 46% of the world’s population. Football can officially lay claim to be the most popular sport in the world and further evidence is the 150m unique visitors at Fifa.com during four weeks of the 2010 tournament.
Entire nations celebrate Fifa World Cup matches so it offers a broad target audience - 60%/40% male/female TV viewer split.
Following these record levels of engagement, Ralph Straus, head of strategy and brand management at Fifa, last week took part in The Big Interview at Brand Licensing Europe 2012 and set out the strategy for World Cup 2014 in Brazil and how licensing will play pivotal role in building the Fifa brand.
He explained revenue splits into two thirds TV and one third sponsorship; licensing is not about revenue at all. It is all about brand building and how licensed products can develop the brand and fuel fan excitement for teams, players and the event itself on a global basis.
The Fifa brand became important in 2002 and ten years on has its biggest focus ever. Historically licensing sales took place in the host nation, but Straus revealed there is new evidence of a shift to a global market.
Activity in Brazil will be complemented by Fifa’s biggest ever global licensing programme. As Fifa look ahead to Russia and Qatar, the strategy is to create an ongoing international licensing business model where essential products are priced within reach of fans.
The vuvuzela was the surprise licensed product of 2010. Fifa is openly looking for a signature product for 2014 in Brazil and Strauss opened the door to pitches from the licensing community. If you’ve got an idea, then get in there quick.
Straus acknowledged a number of challenges for each World Cup. The window of sales opportunity is small with no real sales opportunity beyond the end of tournament. It is difficult to judge in advance which product will be the most popular and therefore getting stock levels right is a challenge.
Sales to fans at the grounds and in the host cities is paramount, as is being flexible in planning for the effect of major teams not qualifying and the drop in sales in that nation or the progress - or not - of teams through the tournament.
FIFA’s focus with its ongoing licensing strategy is to build a sustainable license programme such as those seen with Panini and EA Sports which build on learnings from each World Cup.
Meanwhile the other focus for Straus is how to capitalise on the value of the World Cup archive and how this can be accessed. Fifa is currently evaluating ways to celebrate the heritage of the world’s biggest football event in the off years when there is no World Cup to appeal to football fans and people interested in football heritage.
But Fifa does not have rights to the team kits or players to use so it is clearly a complex business challenge to work through.
Straus finished by underlining how important licensing is to the Fifa brand in its quest to be the most exciting football event worldwide. I can’t wait to see - or hear - what Brazil 2014 will come up with to rival the vuvuzela.