We received a media release this morning that has our blood boiling - not least because it's from FIFA's and FFA's long-term major sponsor, Hyundai. 

It's about an activation during the World Cup known as a 'football fling'. The idea is that so many people have a little 'fling' with football during the World Cup but couldn't care less about it otherwise. We will not share the details, but we do want to highlight parts of the media release.

We quote in italics and we have added emphasis in bold:

“It’s officially fling season, with millions of Australians ready to put their first loved sport on hold for a passionate, short love affair with the greatest sport of all, Football (soccer). Cricket legend Damien Fleming, Rugby champion Wendell Sailor and current Aussie Rules hero Luke Hodge will help FIFA World Cup major sponsor, Hyundai, flip some of the country’s most iconic swimming, AFL and NRL venues, into official match screening venues for key Socceroos games.

“Our sport-loving nation holds its affection mostly for Rugby League and Aussie Rules, which are also our two biggest sporting codes during the winter. However, patriotism will soon kick in and Australians will get behind the Socceroos in the world’s most widely viewed sporting event.

“Australia’s fling rate with FIFA World Cup is on the rise with 40% more Australians tuning in for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil compared to 2010. The number of flings is expected to increase again this year. 

“Some of our greatest heroes, whilst reluctant to admit football is a better sport than their own codes, agree the FIFA World Cup’s fling appeal is its sheer scale, with 32 countries battling it in out the finals after two years of qualifiers among more than 210 nations.

“Damien Fleming, former Australian cricketer and commentator, highlighted the one thing the FIFA World Cup has over Cricket:

“What makes the FIFA World Cup such great fling material is the opportunity it gives to so many people and nations around the world, which creates an exciting event for people to get behind. Cricket has a world cup next year and only 10 teams are competing in that, which I think is too small!”

“Rugby legend Wendell Sailor is one of the 56% of Football fans who are also fans of Rugby League. He happily conceded there is one other thing Football has over NRL:

“The one thing better than my code is the penalty shoot outs and sudden death. You can’t beat that. You’re literally sitting on the edge of your seat!”

Some gibberish about the 'fling' events, and then:

“Like most patriots, Luke Hodge, Damien Fleming and Wendell Sailor all believe the Socceroos will make it through the group matches when they shared their tips for the first three matches. Limited interviews are available to interested media.

Seriously Hyundai?

Want a sporting hero to talk about the World Cup? And you offer Hodge, Fleming and Sailor? What about Alex Wilkinson, Clint Bolton and Melissa Barbieri? And that's just three names that wander into the mind without even thinking about who might fit your demographics best. It's just that we didn't notice the NRL's major sponsor seeking out commentary from the Socceroos on last night's rugby league game - so why? Why do this? 

Perhaps we just got out of bed on the wrong side today? But this 'activation' just seems tired and, well, downright offensive and patronising. The idea - of those who follow the World Cup because it's the biggest stage of all for a few weeks - might have worked but the execution of it is just awful. Up there with #Cahilltex and Socceroos onesies.

By all means, it's great to have people enjoy the World Cup. But to have that decision justified by players from other sporting codes? Bah, humbug. 

Categories: Opinion | Football Business | World Cup

#russia2018, 2018 world cup, hyundai, marketing football

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