The Ultimate World Cup Cheetah

In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, there was nothing closer to the Iranian team’s heart than cheaters. Hold on, I spelt that incorrectly. I meant cheetahs. There is nothing closer to the Iranian team’s heart than cheetahs.

The Asiatic Cheetah is incredibly close to extinction. Estimates suggest that there are only between 40 and 70 wild Asiatic Cheetah left in Iran with car accidents, land use change and habitat degradation having a dramatic impact on the species. In an effort to raise environmental awareness to the plight of this majestic animal, the Iranian team became involved in a world first for the World Cup.

The official Iranian FIFA World Cup jersey was emblazoned with the head of an Asiatic Cheetah. This was the first time that FIFA had allowed a country’s players to wear a jersey with an environmental symbol and signifies a win for the country despite missing out on the overall title.

It is an interesting partnership, the national soccer team and animal conservation, but it is nonetheless a powerful strategy.

Why? Relationships.

There are three things that will never change. Taxes, Death and Allegiance to a Sporting Team. And it is this allegiance that Iran is hoping will save the Asiatic Cheetah.

We all have our teams. Teams for which we hold great emotion and an even greater connection. If the team is cheated, we feel cheated. If the team wins, we feel that we have won. Even the matter of speech referring to these players as ‘our’ team shows the extent of ownership we feel over these sporting clubs. And it is a pretty strong relationship.

All brand partnerships rely on the same idea: The idea that strong relationships are transferable. When the Australian cricket team joins forces with Four & Twenty Meat Pies, the strong relationship that fans share with the team will encompass the meat pies developing a strong relationship with this product as well. The same principle is in play here with the Iranian team.

The strong relationship Iranian communities feel with their own soccer team both in Iran and across the world will be transferred over to a strong relationship with the plight of the Asiatic Cheetah. The results will vary, but the connection with this environmental conservation effort will have a dramatic impact on the community. Awareness will be raised globally, people will become attached to the devastating story of the Cheetah and, hopefully, a strong relationship will form with the conservation effort evoking increased action and concern about the Asiatic Cheetah.

This is a great world first for the World Cup and it is fantastic to see an entire nation getting behind an animal on the verge of extinction. And what better platform to raise this awareness with this clever marketing idea than a global event which has people riveted to their televisions around the world?

To find out more about this majestic animal and the conservation effort with the Iranian soccer team, visit the Conservation of Asiatic Cheetahs Project: