KSA World Cup joy set to trigger ads bonanza

Saudi Arabia’s qualification for the World Cup football finals in Germany next year is set to spark a multi-million dollar marketing and advertising extravaganza.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  June 19, 2005

Saudi Arabia’s qualification for the World Cup football finals in Germany next year is set to spark a multi-million dollar marketing and advertising extravaganza. Companies in the kingdom are eager to capitalise on the national team’s success and experts predict that advertising spending alone will rocket by 20% in the country before and during the finals. Sales of merchandising and related promotional activities are expected to top US$50 million. Pan-Arab pay-TV satellite operator ART, which has the exclusive rights to televise the matches, is expecting to boost its ad revenue from the US$30 million figure reached when Saudi Arabia made the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan, to US$70 million this time around. In the days after this month’s 3-0 win against Uzbekistan in Riyadh, eight companies submitted sealed bids to the Saudi Arabian Football Federation wanting to sponsor the squad ahead of the finals, with the highest bid expected to win through. “Last year, just one company came forward to sponsor the team,” said Ahmed Mohtaselb, executive director at Extend, a media consulting firm based in Riyadh. “This year there are eight companies competing to sponsor the team. That alone demonstrates the significance of the team making the World Cup finals.” Mohtaselb said that the buzz created around the country’s participation in the World Cup would also have a knock-on effect for club football in Saudi, with companies wanting to be associated with the sport at all levels. Pepsi, which is not an official sponsor of the World Cup, has signed sponsorship deals with 12 players across the region, five of who play in the Saudi national side. Turki Al-Mukairin, CEO of sports marketing company Hatrick, and agent for Saudi captain Sami Al-Jaber, said Pepsi had made a tactical decision to associate themselves with the players ahead of the finals. The soft-drink company is endorsing Al-Jaber to the tune of US$200,000, according to Al-Mukairin. Karim Younes, managing director at Starcom Saudi Arabia, said advertisers were already gearing up for the finals. “It is a great opportunity for companies to be associated with a sport that is loved by many people in the kingdom.”

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