Brands associated with the FIFA World Cup in South Africa have seen a significant increase in their online awareness, according to the latest statistics.
Data from Experian Hitwise reveal South Africa Airways – which sponsors the South Africa national football team – saw a 127 per cent increase in the number of internet searches in the week ending June 12th when compared to the previous week.
Interestingly, the findings seem to support FIFA’s strict line against ambush marketing.
In the lead up to the World Cup FIFA forced Kulula, a South African-based low-cost airline known for its humorous advertising, to withdraw a tongue-in-cheek billboard capitalising on the tournament.
The ad had branded Kulula the unofficial carrier of the “You-know-what” and showed footballs, vuvuzela fan trumpets and football players.
Robin Goad, director of research at Experian Hitwise, explained the data indicated that many people were investigating last-minute travel possibilities in order to view the World Cup.
There has been an 85 per cent increase in searches for flights to South Africa in recent weeks, added Mr Goad, with fans perhaps attracted by the sight of half empty stadiums at some games.
Beer brands - including Heineken and Carlsberg - have also seen big rises in UK internet searches, along with Budweiser and Corona.
Heineken sponsors the Netherlands team, Carlsberg the England team, Corona the Mexico team and Budweiser is a FIFA World Cup sponsor, as well as backing the USA team.
Of the top-five-searched sponsors, four of the teams sponsored, with the exception of the Dutch, had already begun play in the tournament.
FIFA attracted criticism earlier this week, expelling a group of Dutch supporters it accused of marketing a rival brand of beer.
Inadvertently the attention generated appears to have offered a significant boost to the profile of the Bavaria brand of beer.
Mr Goad added search information showed a weekend football match could give food and drink brands a real boost in sales.
According to Experian, 1 in 144 searches in the UK were World Cup-related last week.