June 22 2018

Business Goals – Regeln und Nischen/ Rules and Niches

Germany, FIFA World Cup

Please find the English translation of the column below.

Heute erscheint der vierte Teil der Netzathleten Kolumne von Dennis Trautwein, Vice President von Octagon Germany über die WM 2018.

Diesen finden Sie auf der Netzathleten Seite hier.


22 Jun 2018 Dennis Trautwein

The World Cup is in full force, balls are flying – just as the Ruble is flying over the counter, as people are noticing, should they be so inclined. The German team has deservedly lost its opening match against Mexico with 0:1 and will play against Sweden tomorrow. This match will be significant in light of the first knockout round, which is already tangible for quite a few teams of the eight preliminary groups. For the German team it is its first final of the tournament.

The host has started into the World Cup in a much better way: 5:0 against Saudi-Arabia and 3:1 against Egypt – naturally, this was very beneficial for the overall mood in the country. The hope of a great World Cup from a Russian point of view has increased significantly among locals. You experience this every day over here, especially since Russia is already through to the Round of 16. Currently, there is quite a lot of euphoria around the ‘Sbornaja’. Meanwhile, German fans have to worry about the current World Champion both here and at home.

Even off the field things remain exciting, since for all involved it is about peak performances and that the ideas of the playmakers bear fruit. Playmakers – for me, considering our industry, are decision makers in marketing, who are FIFA partners and sponsors; the makers behind the scene. We as Octagon, as well as our colleagues from other agencies, who are supporting our customers, are working non-stop. Not only between the goals on the pitch there is a tough competition going on.

For a lot of sponsors it is about their best performance and an increased awareness of their brand. To be associated with the World Cup is a big opportunity. In addition, we want to build emotional bridges for our customers to their consumers, bring partnerships to life – in line with, but also to the fullest extent possible, the in part very restrictive FIFA rules. Regardless, there are quite a few remaining opportunities onsite, at the stadium and increasingly at fan fests as well.

For our customers, we deliberately look at niche opportunities that our customers may not have been able to identify without us. Some customers do not know about the various options at a World Cup that reach beyond billboards and standardized ad formats. There are so-called sole and exclusive rights, special rights that are approved by FIFA prior to the event, that enable tailored communication and promotions for companies. The art is to find the right ones. Of course, the quantity of such individual rights is limited. From a marketing perspective, you’ve accomplished a lot, if you are able to identify and then fully exploit such a right.

Vivo for example, the official FIFA smartphone sponsor, obtained the exclusive right for the World Cups in Russia and Qatar to utilize select guests as Vivo Smartphone Photographs during player warm up and thereby take cell phone pictures from the sidelines.

The pitch: usually a no-go zone, even for FIFA sponsoring partners, aside from adidas, the official ball supplier. What opportunities are available here? In 2014, we were able to find a niche for our customer Johnson & Johnson and achieve unanticipated presence: the pharmaceutical and consumer goods manufacturer became the official healthcare partner of the FIFA World Cup and therefore made it onto the field. All team doctors were equipped with Johnson & Johnson products – especially poorer associations really appreciated it. Therefore, team doctors ran onto the pitch with branded Johnson & Johnson bags. These are the small success stories that really set you apart! Not a right that is easily identifiable prior, but rather rights that, after intensive research what categories are available under FIFA rules and how they are to be interpreted, was filtered out; in combination with an intensive dialog with the global federation.

Of course, lawyers are sitting at the table as well during such a process to help shape contracts. This is the beginning of the journey. Once it’s about how the agreed upon regulations can be brought to life however, it becomes a marketing discussion. Especially since FIFA regulations have become second nature for us after so many years working World Cups, they are ingrained. It allows us to shorten negotiations with FIFA. 

About the power of social media and what FIFA is trying to aim for with its strict rules – these are topics I will address in my next article. At that time we will be facing the Round of 16, hopefully with German participation. Keep your fingers crossed!


Until then, yours,

Dennis Trautwein



About Dennis Trautwein:

The football World Cup in Germany in 2006 was Dennis Trautwein’s personal ‘Sommermärchen’ (summer fairy tale) – the first World Cup experience for the then 26-year-old. His job at the World Cup Organizing Committee was the perfect entry into his career – and a lasting one. World Cups were going to play a major role for the now 38-year-old upon his start with Octagon Germany in 2007. His strategic focus was on the following FIFA World Cups in 2010, 2014 – and of course now the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Dennis Trautwein is one of the leading sport marketing experts in this country – and an absolute connoisseur of the scene.