Retailers are rolling out the promotional material in an effort to benefit from the forthcoming World Cup 2014.
Down tools, grab a beer and hunker down in front of the telly. If you’re a fan of the beautiful game, this modus operandi is probably already under way as the World Cup 2014 enters its second week. And if, as is somewhat pessimistically predicted, it really is all over for England by June 24, what happens may be of academic interest only.
For retailers, the event may be taking place a long way from home but the theory goes that sales of sports kit and shoes, alcohol, barbecue equipment and comestibles should all tick over nicely, providing that appropriate promotions are in place.
On the high street, this means pictures of sporting heroes doing their football thing in the windows of sports shops, alongside footwear, and elsewhere it is national team T-shirts or food, to which banners bearing the cross of St George have been attached.
Even given the low level of expectations this time around, there are still a good number of retailers who have opted, in a fittingly low-key manner, to mark the occasion. George’s Mini Market, Fred Perry and John Lewis serve to illustrate the breadth of the retail spectrum that is taking at least some interest in this World Cup as a commercial opportunity and the approaches adopted vary widely.
Niketown, Oxford Circus
Given that the ground floor of the world’s largest Niketown is, for the most part, a marketing tool from which few, if any, sales are made, it would seem reasonable to expect this to be World Cup central on Oxford Street.
The clues are there from the outset, with decals of footballers in yellow boots kicking footballs adorning the Regent Street windows, accompanied by the graffiti-style legend ‘Create Attack’. The campaign is aimed at promoting the new Magista football boot.
Alongside boots and footballers, there are spiders formed by a pair of the boots placed sole to sole from which an arachnid’s legs protrude.
Head indoors and a giant version of the window scheme graphic is used on the walls close to the entrance. Beyond this there is a goal, created by a lurid green web with a spider in its middle, a football-playing member of staff and the same arachnid as on the store exterior. In total, this is an interesting use of both graphics and live installation.
Asda has an enormous store on the outskirts of the Church of England’s HQ and it has pulled out the stops as far as celebrating the Brazilian event is concerned.
‘Action alley’, the store’s central walkway that cuts across most of the aisles, is festooned with cross of St George bunting from one end to the other.
It has treated the World Cup in a similar manner to the way in which it deals with Halloween. This means putting down a floor decal along the length of one aisle and then filling its shelves with related merchandise, ranging from yet more flags to beer, by way of T-shirts and barbecue essentials such as disposable paper plates bearing the England flag.
The point-of-sale that accompanies all of this enjoins Asda shoppers to “Love the Game”. There can be little doubting the commitment of the grocer to the World Cup and as if to punch the point home, in the entrance atrium there is a stack of Coca Cola multi-packs on which an outsize cardboard football is balanced. Football, it appears, may not be coming home, but it’s certainly in place at Asda.
“Go Brazil Nuts!”, urges the point-of-sale on the promotional equipment at this large branch of Argos, situated on Canterbury’s outskirts. The green and yellow theme is picked up around the shop with the World Cup used to promote gas barbecues for the garden, with the legend “Warm up before the big games” and the checkouts that carry the message: “Check out and reserve at Argos.co.uk Brazilliant!”
This must rank as one of the more opportunistic campaigns being run by the high street majors, although curiously, it does not have the same impact as many others, probably owing to the fact that the red and white flag is nowhere to be seen.
Say what you like about Morrisons, and many have of late, but this is a retailer that understands how to merchandise a couple of pallets of Diet and regular Coke. These have been arranged just inside the main entrance to create a large England flag that greets shoppers as they head for the vegetable misting unit and the fresh fruit and vegetables.
The display has impact and leads the visitor to expect a big show for team Engerland, but this fails to materialise, for the most part.
Instead, those wandering the aisles will have to wait until they reach the beer and wine area, where flags of the nations taking part have been strung above the merchandise. The net effect is one of close to two cheers for the home side.
Fred Perry, Covent Garden
The Fred Perry brand is perhaps best known for its association with the former English tennis ace and Wimbledon hero of many years ago.
A window that supports the World Cup is therefore unexpected, but the branch in Covent Garden’s Piazza is devoted to football.
Designed by the in-house Fred Perry team and executed by visual consultancy Planorama, the window scheme cleverly hijacks the classic Perry shirt and puts it to work in the cause of football by putting red tipping on the collar of a white shirt.
There are in fact two shirts, one in each window, and each is supported by an industrial hoist, beneath which there are brightly-coloured footballs.
Each bears the Fred Perry logo and pays homage, as far as colour palette is concerned, to the countries that are taking part in the competition.
In terms of yoking one sport to another that is seemingly unrelated to World Cup 2014, this is an enterprising campaign.
George’s Mini Market, Whitstable
From time to time the British seaside is the home of the quirky independent – the kind of place that may well stock things that people are familiar with elsewhere, but which when put in a different context feels unusual and inviting.
This is what George’s Mini Market in Whitstable is about and its two windows are a symphony of praise for the England football team and for a quasi-kiss-me-quick display of hats.
There is almost nothing fancy about what has been done, right down to the way in which a piece of paper that carries the word ‘England’ and which is part of a larger ‘Come on England’, has slipped and is not straight. This is the kind of make do and mend visual merchandising that many large retailers spend a lot of money on creating, to foster a sense of the homespun. At George’s it’s artless and all the better for it.
Analysis: Will the World Cup allow retailers to score winning goals?
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In pictures: World Cup windows and displays