World Cup goals and promotional risk

The nation may have breathed a collective sigh of disappointment when the England team was finally knocked out of the World Cup, losing in the semi-final to Croatia, but I’m imagining that for Neil, the financial director of Auto Trader, it was a massive sigh of relief.

Why? Because Auto Trader was offering footie fans the chance to win a car each time England scored. To take part in the prize draw all people had to do was use the hashtag #AutoTraderGoals on social media whenever an England player hit the back of the net – and that happened rather more often than Neil probably thought it would.

Apparently, he had calculated that England would score a maximum of eight goals in the tournament, meaning Auto Trader would have budgeted to give away a maximum of eight vehicles, whereas, boosted by the 6-1 scoreline against Panama, England’s goal tally up to and including the Croatia game was 12. Oh dear. I reckon Auto Trader is probably facing a bill for new cars that’s heading towards the £200k mark.

There’s quite an amusing video, posted before England’s round-of-16 game against Colombia, in which Neil cheers on the opposition and urges Gareth and the boys to help him out by not scoring. However, to be honest, I’m not sure Neil’s been completely straight with us, because I have a sneaking suspicion he’s not Auto Trader’s financial director but is actually an actor playing a role in what’s been a very successful World Cup promotion.

And it has been a successful campaign for Auto Trader. The hashtag has trended during England matches and the brand must have increased its social following significantly, which will help support its long-term marketing strategies. As far as that bill is concerned I’m sure they will have done a deal on the vehicles – they must have a few contacts in the motor trade, after all – and I assume they’ve ensured the financial risk is managed. In other words, Auto Trader will have taken out a special type of insurance to cover the company against the number of prize claims exceeding the number of prize claims they’ve budgeted for.

The World Cup is an ideal event to hang a promotion on, but what’s great about promotional risk management is that it allows promoters to be really creative and offer a prize pool which wouldn’t be possible – or certainly financially prudent – with a fixed budget promotion. Russia 2018 has seen several creative and indeed daring promotions. For example, official sponsor Budweiser promised to give free beer to every adult of legal drinking age in England if the team triumphed in the final. This was a very generous offer, but on the face of it a rather risky promotion and Budweiser came perilously close to having to stand a very large round.

If England had won the World Cup, though, the terms and conditions of the Budweiser promotion stated that fans would have had just 24 hours from the final whistle to download and redeem a coupon and that limited the risk because it was unlikely that every adult in England would actually do that. However, in addition Budweiser would almost certainly have had a risk management solution in place to ensure costs were capped, minimise their economic exposure and guarantee that there were no financial surprises if the England team and the promotion had performed better than anticipated.

Mind you, thinking about it, before the England team can head home to a heroes’ welcome they have to play Belgium in the third-place play-off. If Harry Maguire gets a hat-trick will Auto Trader to be liable for another three cars? My reading of the terms and conditions are that it will, but either way let’s hope the promotion is covered by a sensible risk management solution – for Neil’s sake.

Don’t lose out when your promotion scores. Prizeology can help you put promotional risk management in place. Get in touch via

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador. 

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