A view from Ivan Pollard

Perspective: How the World Cup shows the power of shared experience

Every four years, around about this sort of time, I get excited and filled with a vague sense of hope that something magnificent is about to happen.

All things seem possible: the return of Eric Morecambe, world peace, saving the last few mountain gorillas, being able to speak French and maybe even getting snogged on the school bus.

Actually, ignore that last one; that was from 40 years ago and it never happened.

But there is something else that gets old and young, girls and boys, Italian and English all excited at the same time - the Fifa World Cup. This is a magnificent, engaging, all-encompassing excuse to get wound up, bunk off work, cheer, cry, shout, hug and kiss people you have never met before - and that is before the games have even begun. But what is so great about it is that the same thing happens for huge numbers of people all at the same time, all to the same end.

Go into Soho on the evening of a big game and soak up the atmosphere. Stand in a street in Newcastle as another Rooney goal thumps into the back of the net and listen to the roar from every house in the neighbourhood. Sit and watch the TV with your friends and your family and marvel at the power of it all.

It is a wonderful time of the year and, this time, maybe this time, we will win the World Cup. I think we have a good chance. Great players with their last shot, young players with their first; a great Italian coach; a world-class striker; conditions in Africa to suit our game; and no outstanding team on the planet that stands in the way. A great chance - though David Beckham missing is a blow. This is because I think he is great at being a lightning conductor for the media and deflecting it from others (Mr Terry, Mr Cole, please step forward). But in spite of that, maybe we will win.

It is this hope, this shared sentiment, this communal experience, this immense scale that gets marketers excited and allows Fifa to develop lasting, profitable partnerships with great brands. In 2006, there were more than 200 brands that leveraged the tournament - the majority of which were not sponsors. Pepsi or Coke? Nike or Adidas? Visa or MasterCard? They all do it and the reason is that it works.

But you do not have to be enormous to be valued. Talked-about, shared events are still there - you just have to work harder to find them and be smarter to leverage them.

Think of the election, Pop Idol, the volcano, Avatar and Wimbledon. Think of Lady Gaga and Susan Boyle. Think of exam time and Christmas. News is the biggest driver of aggregating audiences together and giving them something to talk about, and getting around that news is a smart thing to do. And the biggest bit of news this summer will be England winning this World Cup. Three Lions roaring, anyone? Now what are the chances of that?

- Ivan Pollard is a partner at Naked Communications.

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