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To mark the start of the FIFA World Cup yesterday, we asked members of our GWI Real-Time panel to identify the tournament's official sponsors.

As Day 1 of the competition got underway, GlobalWebIndex invited internet users in Brazil, the US and the UK to pick official World Cup sponsors from a selection of 38 brands (comprising all of the official sponsors, as well as a range of competitors).

Our research – carried out as the hype surrounding the start of the tournament reached fever pitch – revealed a number of compelling insights about the effectiveness of sponsoring such a global tournament.

* Coca-Cola (sponsor since 1978), Adidas (since 1970) and McDonald’s (since 1994) are the most recognized World Cup sponsors, confirming the positive impact of being a long-standing partner. Coca-Cola had the best figures of all – it was selected by two thirds in the UK and USA as well as 85% in Brazil.

* MasterCard – a previous sponsor between 1990 and 2006 – is still heavily associated with the tournament. Overall, 38% of people identified it as an official 2014 partner – not far behind the 42% scored by current sponsor Visa.

* Recognition levels for all of the core sponsors are highest in Brazil, showing the heightened levels of brand awareness to be found in the tournament’s host nation.

* Brands which have been running heavily football-themed marketing campaigns – in spite of having no official link with the tournament – were picked as sponsors by significant minorities. Nike, for example, with its ads featuring Ronaldo, Rooney, Neymar et al – was selected by nearly a third of people in the UK and US, as well as over 40% in Brazil. Similarly, a fifth in the UK and a third in Brazil believe that Samsung is a sponsor, no doubt due to its ads in which Ronaldo and Rooney appear once more, this time alongside Messi.

* People in the UK are most likely to believe that Carlsberg is an official sponsor, while Puma, Amex and Pepsi all score their highest percentages in the US. Brazilians are much more likely to believe that P&G – an official sponsor for the 2016 Rio Olympics – is also associated with the World Cup.

With Brazil 2014 set to be the first truly digital World Cup, where social platforms can deliver global, mass-market reach like never before and are a critical communication channel for advertisers, GWI will be monitoring brand awareness levels throughout the tournament. This will include another wave of research on the final day of the World Cup – allowing us to identify which sponsors have benefited from their association as well as which of the non-sponsor brands have successfully leveraged the buzz surrounding the tournament despite lacking any official connection.

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