Blockchain and Brands at the FIFA World Cup
Manager of Partnership Innovation
Passion points like sports and entertainment are great ways for brands to interact with mass audiences and build recognition. Global football has led the evolution of strategic collaborations that have formed world-class experiences, especially with emerging technology. While several brands and sports properties are showcasing NFT projects and other collaborations with blockchain, the fall of FTX (a cryptocurrency exchange) has cast a broader burden and increased skepticism on blockchain, but it does not represent the entire space. We have seen that some partnerships or collaborations with a new blockchain and crypto brand will ensure results and services are not always fully delivered. However, where marketers and audiences can focus on are the collaborations that can succeed in delivering an experience that takes one from feeling like a spectator to making memories that deliver a sense of ownership, creating the ultimate fan connection.
Let’s look at some recent examples of these collaborations, and how they are seeking to utilize the power of blockchain to create long-term appeal with a deeply passionate fanbase of global football supporters.
FIFA’s Goals with Blockchain
Leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, FIFA and blockchain partner Algorand launched FIFA+ Collect, an NFT marketplace where football fans own digital collectibles of FIFA’s 92-year history. The platform first released around 530,000 packs of iconic moments in the “Genesis Drop.” Soon after, FIFA+ Collect released three more drops with the most recent being “FIFA Archives Drop 2.” FIFA+ Collect is a great example of a platform that wants to reach the most passionate fans and incentivize them with the choice to essentially, “own a part of the World Cup.” Now imagine having ownership of a moment that only FIFA and other rights holders had access to and decided on when it would be utilized.
While the loyalty for national teams competing at the World Cup is unmatched, the lively stories of a player’s journey prove that relatable experiences of resilience, grit, and skill will always attract large fan bases. Another notable move from FIFA has been the recent partnership with Matchday, a blockchain-based gaming company. In partnership with the global players union FIFPRO, fans have access to Matchday player cards that include the name, image, and likeness of 65,000 professional players. The Matchday partnership further demonstrates how FIFA and FIFPRO established a new way to build excitement for fans through a digital-friendly competition amongst friends, all while collaborating with a blockchain partner.
Budweiser’s Budverse & Visa’s Purposeful Approach to NFTs and the World Cup
Similar to FIFA’s efforts to engage with fans through NFTs and blockchain, a wave of companies like Budweiser and Visa crafted their approaches to reaching fans through passion points. Budweiser launched Live Score Board NFTs with FIFA, where owners have an animated scoreboard of their chosen team. Known as the “Budverse” this use of NFTs for match updates paired with physical merchandise further excites an experience with unique forms of added value.
Visa’s use of NFTs related to the 2022 World Cup focused on giving back to a youth football organization called Street Child United, a U.K.-based charity that provides protection and support for children globally. In partnership with Crypto.com, Visa released five World Cup-themed NFTs that feature historical goals scored by FIFA legends. The NFTs were auctioned off with all proceeds donated to Street Child United.
Football has always been a sport where brands found success when focusing on leveraging the game’s unique intersection of community, strategy, passion, and culture to build a global connection. With the rapid introduction of emerging technology across the blockchain industry, new ways to connect fans with their favorite teams and players are bound to take off. The brands that are willing to be early adaptors in this early evolving category can see great gains.
At GMR, our partnerships team has the experience of activating brands at 12 Men’s World Cups and five Women’s World Cups. If you are watching the matches unfold in Qatar and want your brand to be ready for North America’s defining moment on the global sports stage at the 2026 World Cup, reach out to me, we would love to talk.