Brands across the globe always want to be part of the World Cup narrative, regardless if they are an official sponsor or not. Over the past month we’ve seen some truly memorable activation campaigns, some more memorable for the wrong reasons.

SportQuake take a look at some of our personal favourites, as well as a couple of brands who we think have scored an own goal this summer.


Paddy Power – From Russia With Equal Love

Renowned for producing risqué ambush marketing campaigns for sporting events across the globe, Paddy Power made no exception for the 2018 World Cup. In partnership with Attitude magazine, Paddy Power announced they would be donating £10,000 for every goal the hosts scored to help fight LBGT+ prejudice in Russia.

Russia, unexpectedly, progressed to the quarter-finals before losing to Croatia on penalties. The players’ exploits ultimately delivered a pot of £170,000 for the From Russia With Equal Love campaign.

Budweiser – Light Up The World Cup

Budweiser kicked off their official sponsorship of the 2018 World Cup with their drone delivery advert, showing that no matter where in the world you were watching, you could enjoy the action with Budweiser. The advert has received more than 30m views on YouTube alone.

As well as the TV and social media adverts Budweiser took over the stadiums in Russia with their exclusive light up cups that react to crowd noise, provided official fan zones and were the official sponsor for MOTM. There was no doubt in our mind that Budweiser were the official beer supplier for the 2018 World Cup.

Wish – #TimeOnYourHands

E-commerce company, Wish, enrolled the help of footballing ambassadors who wouldn’t be participating in the World Cup to help spread the #TimeOnYourHands campaign.

Showcasing products that could be purchased on Wish, athletes such as Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie and Gigi Buffon show viewers what they’re doing with time on their hands. Read more about the campaign here.

Papa John’s – #KeepCalmAndKammyOn

Papa John’s wanted an ambush campaign that would capture the imagination of both football followers and mainstream audiences during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, without the use of an official sponsorship.

Kamara, known for his excitement and hilarious gaffes on Soccer Saturday, was used as the calming influence during the campaign which aimed to demonstrate pizza can calm an anxious nation during World Cup fever. #KeepCalmAndKammyOn.

More about the campaign here.

Own Goals

Mastercard – Goals That Change Lives

Mastercard announced before the World Cup that they would be providing 10,000 meals to hungry children across the world, every time Messi and Neymar scored during the tournament.

The campaign, that was set up to be a combined ambush and CSR marketing initiative, received massive backlash as people criticised Mastercard for putting an online stunt for impressions, ahead of the well-being of humans.

Ultimately Mastercard pulled the plug on the campaign and instead made a promise to provide 1 million meals in 2018.

Vatti – World Cup Refund

Chinese kitchen appliance manufacturer and France national team official partner, Vatti, are set to refund customers £8.9m thanks to France’s World Cup heroics. In May Vatti ran a promotion that promised customers who purchased specific “championship products” a full refund should Didier Deschamps men go on to win the tournament.

Customers have until July 24th to claim their refund, but a spokesman for Vatti said it will have little impact on the bottom line. The campaign could turn out to be a complete success as online and offline sales have improved as well as brand awareness.