World Cup 2022: Controversy and Opportunity

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In 2018, The World Cup had more viewers than the populations of China, India, and Europe combined. Today in 2022, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has stated that a staggering 5 billion people are expected to tune in to watch the World Cup unfold in Qatar. Advertisers are faced with the rare opportunity to promote, sponsor, and share with these billions of fans during one of the biggest quadrennial sporting events in human history.

It is important to mention that there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the World Cup this year in Qatar and advertisers have chosen to be careful in how they advertise. The launch of the tournament has been overshadowed by the human cost and the terrible working conditions that migrant workers were subjected to while building the infrastructure for the games. According to The Guardian, more than 6,500 workers from Asia died building the World Cup. Additionally, Qatar’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues has left much of the world upset with FIFA for choosing them as the host country. Therefore, advertisers have been careful to endorse teams and other aspects of the tournament rather than the tournament or the country itself. 

Despite these challenges, large companies are still willing to invest heavily in their advertising budgets and as demonstrated below, Qatar is expected to generate $6.5 billion.


Companies like Ford, Samsung, and Coca-Cola are anticipated to spend around $2 billion on promotions. In particular, programmatic advertising is being chosen by many companies because of the increase in digital viewership of the World Cup. Programmatic advertising is the automation of processes involved with buying and placing ads on apps and websites. Engagement online is very high, and viewers may be more receptive to advertisements that appear from their personal devices. This year’s tournament is also different from past World Cups for an unsuspecting reason: it is occurring during the winter instead of the summer. For advertisers the winter season is generally dominated by the holidays, but there are now opportunities to combine the holidays with the World Cup. Programmatic advertising in particular is a crucial tool to use to maximize profit in this situation. Total spending per company will be dependent on which teams advance in the tournament. Depending on the market of their home country, companies will determine how to spend their advertising budget. It is crucial to consider demographics when companies decide on advertising schemes and allocation.

Ultimately, the conflicts between companies and organizations that have occurred this World Cup season have not significantly slowed spending on advertising during the tournament yet remain significant concerns. Programmatic advertising can be utilized to target the right populations to maximize profit and with an expected 5 billion total viewers, there will be no shortage of opportunity.