Not an official sponsor? Here’s how you can still make an impact at Euro 2024

So, it’s started. The summer of sport which will see British fans get all excited about ‘football coming home’ only to inevitably have their dreams crushed. Yes, we know we’re being a bit pessimistic, and fingers crossed we are horribly wrong, but failing that we always have the Olympics and Paralympics to keep our national hopes alive.

Obviously, being a sponsor of one of these big sporting events is a big deal, but it also comes with a big price tag especially given you’re not the only player on the field. There are 18 official sponsors for Euro 2024 which doesn’t include Unilever who have a multi-brand partnership deal.  And that’s before you factor in that events like the Euros and Paralympics  have their own brand identity; each individual international team has their own brand sponsors as well as brand fans, who are guaranteed to let everyone know they have arrived.

But it does raise an intriguing question. If you want to cash in on these big sporting events, but don’t want to spend the big bucks or be given a red card (sorry, had to go there!) for falsely implying official endorsement, is there anything you can do to make an impact?  Most definitely. And some brands are already ahead of the game.

1. Be first out of the gate

David Goggins, a retired United States Navy SEAL and ultramarathon runner advocates that if everyone gets up at 6am to go for a run, then you should get up at 5am.

Personally, we’re just impressed if you go for a run at all, but it does highlight a salient point. If brands all launch their Euro 2024 campaigns at the same time, especially if it’s just before the first fixture, chances are your advertising will get lost in the general noise and hullabaloo surrounding the Euros and its official sponsors.

And that’s where Irn-Bru have played a blinder. They launched their first #WeCan ad over a month ago, and since then have dropped two more both focused on how optimism is back in Scotland. And even better, you can actually buy the #WeCan pants!!

An honourable mention also needs to go to the Paralympics. Taking place at the end of the summer after the Euros and the Olympics, it’s easy to forget they are happening. However, they cleverly launched their TV ad  a couple of weeks ago to mark 100 days before the Games start. Now, that’s what you call getting in early.

2. Be savvy

Put your hands up if you think Walkers are an official sponsor of the Euros. We certainly did, but nope, they’re not.

Back in May, Walkers launched a range of limited-edition packs featuring footballers including David Beckham, Thierry Henry, and Leah Williamson. The ‘No Walkers, No Game’ campaign included a couple of ads, which have been showing on TV over the last few weeks. But rather than being a sponsor of the Euros, Walkers is actually a sponsor of the Champions League, the final of which took place on 1st June.

Now, we’re not saying Walkers have necessarily cashed in on the final being so close to the start of Euro 2024, but their ads have continued been playing since the Champions League Final  so you could argue the timing has most definitely been on their side.

3. Be emotional

We’ve talked before about the importance of creating emotion if you really want your advertising to be memorable, and it’s undeniably an effective tactic during a time when we are being inundated with sport-themed ads.

Well, the British Heart Foundation campaign has delivered emotion in spades.  It features 12 heart-wrenching murals commemorating football fans who have been taken from us too early. Its aim is to raise funds for their critical research by highlighting how 12 people under 35 are lost to sudden cardiac death in the UK each week.

They aren’t official sponsors of the Euros, which is probably why they haven’t used any footballers in their campaign, but that really doesn’t matter. It’s an excellent example of how using emotion around a current cultural event can create something truly memorable.

4. Be creative

We just love the new tongue-in-cheek Specsavers ad! Kicking off the day before the first Euro 2024 fixture, they have translated their famous tagline “Should’ve gone to Specsavers” into the languages of all the nations taking part. Why?  So, “supporters of every nation will be able to scream, cry or shout the phrase in their native tongue when the inevitable dodgy refereeing decisions take place.”  Absolute classic.

And what we also love about this campaign is they have stayed on brand and true to themselves and their audience.  Too often, in an attempt to capitalise on what’s happening culturally and to appear relevant, brands try too hard and get it horribly wrong. BrewDog is a prime example, launching an anti-World Cup protest campaign against the hosting of the event in Qatar, despite continuing to sell beer in the country. Enough said.

5. Be original

Okay, we know all the supermarkets will be promoting a range of match-ready food, but you’ve got to hand it to Aldi, who have come up with something that is the epitome of Englishness. Yep, football crumpets – the breakfast of champions! But then they had to do something a bit unusual given their archenemy, Lidl, is a key sponsor of the Euros.

And to give Aldi their due, they also have a full range of Euros-themed caps, hats, hoodies, t-shirts and even footballs.

But the big question we all want answered is – will Cuthbert the Caterpillar appear in England kit? Now, that would be one in the eye for Lidl!

So, yes, there are definitely things brands can do to ensure they stand out from the official sponsors during big sporting fixtures. It will be fascinating to see where emotion, and originality takes other brands’ creativity over the coming weeks.