Shops and sponsors set to live the dream

World Cup will deliver billions of pounds to the high street, but can the teams also buy their way into history?

Companies are gearing up to rake in billions of pounds in boosted sales this summer as the most lucrative World Cup ever gets under way.

With the football tournament kicking off on Friday in Germany, a host of companies, including official sponsors such as Gillette and Budweiser, will be looking to cash in on the event's global popularity. Companies around the world have already spent millions on related marketing campaigns and on securing the 15 main sponsorship slots.

According to Nigel Currie, director of the sports marketing agency Brand Rapport, sponsorship of the event is worth around £600m in total. Another £200m has been spent by companies sponsoring the 32 teams in the tournament, and around £120m has gone on individual player endorsements.

Fifa, meanwhile, sold the global television rights for around £750m, the highest ever; in 1982, they went for just £20m. "The rights have grown significantly in the last few years," said Mr Currie. "Twenty years ago they were negligible. People have just woken up to the power of the event."

Chris Williams, head of TV at the media-buying agency Starcom, said 30-second advertising slots during ITV's two exclusive England group games could sell for £150,000. That means the four most popular advertising spots around the two games - just before kick-off, two during half-time and the first after the final whistle - could sell for a total of around £8m.

Retailers, meanwhile, are also expecting to cash in. The British Retail Consortium last week predicted that the public could spend up to £1.25bn on food and drink during the games, merchandise and new TVs, as well as descending on pubs to watch the games. The longer England stay in the tournament, the more people are expected to spend.

And tomorrow, figures from the market research group GfK will show that despite the wettest May for nearly three decades - normally a curb on shopping habits - the consumer goods market grew by 5 per cent on the same month last year; some £250m was spent on flat-screen TVs alone.

"If you are a brand manager for a product that's aimed at 18- to 35-year-old males, it's just a dream event for you," said Tim Wilson, a director in consulting at Deloitte. Although the US owner of Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch, is the only official beer sponsor, Mr Wilson said beer companies across the board would cash in. "They know all the retailers will really focus on the World Cup. They will be looking at 100 per cent, 200 per cent increases in sales without any formal attachment."

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