Meltdowns, Scandal and the Downright Bizarre in the World Cup of PR

by Fraser Clarke

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Scottish PR agency explores how certain nations’ public relations have been affected by the World Cup

Scottish PR

WE’VE been on the ‘march wi’ Ally’s Army. John Barnes has had the ‘World in Motion’. And there was that weird octopus that predicted the winner in Germany.

Yep, it’s fair to say the World Cup has had its fair share of PR stunts over the years but what impact does the tournament have on business?

It’s clear that the festival of football is much more than just 22 blokes kicking a bag of air around a pitch, but how can your business learn from the various off field stories that surround the most watched sporting event in the world?

We’ve managed to pull ourselves together and get over the fact that Scotland have failed to qualify (again) to put together a list of some of the most brilliant, bizarre and breathtaking World Cup moments to show why the beautiful game is big business.


For this paragraph think France 2010 and Spain 2018.

In the searing heat of South Africa, Les Blues’ World Cup campaign lurched from one disaster to the next.

Led by former Chelsea star Nicolas Anelka, the France squad turned on then head coach Raymond Domenech, with captain Patrice Evra eventually leading the squad off the training pitch to take the huff on the team bus.

What does this have to do with your business?

Well, it was abundantly clear that the bigwigs at the French FA had no clear contingency plan in place to turn to if things turned sour.

Instead, they were left looking spineless, and neither backed their stricken manager nor an incensed squad of 23 footballers.

In contrast, this year’s World Cup has been dominated by the decision by Spain to sack their manager just days before the first ball is kicked in anger.

When Joan Lopetegui announced he was to take over as Real Madrid manager after the tournament, the Spanish FA didn’t mess about, sacking Lopetegui and appointing a caretaker replacement on the same day.

If your business is in the midst of crisis, you need to show strength and decisive leadership to make clear and well-thought out decisions to avoid a crisis rumbling on and on and providing journalists with a treasure trove of follow up stories.

It remains to be seen how the Spanish players will perform but you’re far better making sure you take their management approach as opposed to the French in 2010, if you’re business is in crisis – something the guidance and expertise of an established Scottish PR agency can help with (ahem).


If the World Cup has taught us one thing, it’s that there’s money to be made – even if things don’t go to plan.

Everyone knows about Paul Gascoigne’s tears at Italia 90, Gary Lineker telling Sir Bobby Robson to keep an eye on him and then the Germans knocking England out on penalties.

The nation mourned and Gazza’s tears summed up the feeling of hundreds of men and women across the country.

But from what was one of the loveable Geordie’s lowest moments turned into a cash generator thanks to a money spinning ad deal with Walker’s crisps.

Likewise, his teammate Stuart Pearce, turned his crucial penalty miss into dollar signs thanks to a lucrative deal with Pizza Hut.

And it’s the same in business. The way you respond to turmoil can be crucial to ensuring your firm comes out the other side with its reputation intact.

A considered PR plan is essential to ensuring you gradually turn a negative into a positive and use the increased media exposure to your advantage to promote all that’s good with your product or service.


Good advice is essential in any aspect of life, but none more so than when it comes to media relations.

Take the recent storm surrounding Raheem Sterling’s decision to have a gun tattooed on his leg.

Images and opinion on the inking filled column inches, flooded our TV screens and drowned the airwaves with people from both sides of the argument putting their views across.

Some thought as a role model for millions of youngsters, the 23-year-old should have known better than having a rifle drawn on his leg, especially at a time when gun crime is so prevalent in the media.

Others believed it had been blown out of proportion and pointed out that the decision was taken in memory of his late father.

Was the decision advisable? Probably not.

Was the reaction of the media predictable? Absolutely.

When making big decisions for your business, it pays to have expert PR consultants on hand to ensure you’re fully briefed on the potential implications of your choice in the media.

Only then can you fully evaluate the decision before you take it and be sure of avoiding a Sterling-esque media storm.


The eyes of the world are on Russia as the planet’s best players compete to lift the most famous trophy in football.

And it pays to keep a close eye on the action, especially if you want your business to replicate the success some of the stars and nations have enjoyed as a result of the beautiful game.

Let’s just hope that Paul the Octopus keeps his tentacles to himself at this World Cup and the pre-match punditry is taken up with ten minutes of his predictions…

Want to ensure your public relations hit the back of the net? Speak to one of the team at our Scottish PR agency today

In between the matches at this year’s World Cup, why not pick up the phone to us on 0131 561 2244 or fill out the form below, and transform your business. Far better than listening to the half-time analysis…

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Young PR professional Fraser Clarke, who works with public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh, Scotland

Fraser Clarke

Young public relations professional Fraser Clarke is part of the multi award-winning team at Holyrood PR, a leading Scottish PR agency

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