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Saturday 3rd June will see Cardiff host its first ever UEFA Champions League final. Real Madrid and Juventus will battle it out in what is the showpiece and final game of the European football season.

The fixture’s worldwide appeal and reach is phenomenal. A global television audience of 200million is expected, a figure which organisers say is double the size of American Football’s Super Bowl.

Real Madrid are the reigning champions and they pocketed a cool €94 million in prize money alone for their successful campaign last year. There is an incredibly large amount of money in European football – Madrid recently had £38m spare to sign a 16-year-old Brazilian ‘wonderkid’ – despite him only having 17 minutes of first-team football under his belt.

The high-profile event has, inevitably, triggered some interesting and diverse marketing and PR campaigns from well-known brands that are looking to engage with footy-mad consumers – so far with varying degrees of success.

For example, Nissan is hosting a competition with a particularly exciting prize – the opportunity to attend the big match with ex-Tottenham Hotspur and France football legend David Ginola. The social media campaign is asking fans to submit an entry – detailing how much the final means to them – using the #GetThereWithGinola hashtag.

Walkers Crisps also launched a competition, asking people to respond to a tweet from their Twitter account with a selfie, using the hashtag #WalkersWave, to have a chance to win tickets. The selfies were then incorporated into a personalised video, featuring Gary Lineker, automatically tweeted and captioned by Walkers. Unfortunately for Walkers, it catastrophically backfired – users submitted photos of criminals such as Joseph Fritzel, which then appeared in the videos being held by Gary Lineker. The content has since been removed and the campaign activity suspended.

For Walkers, this is a sobering reminder that putting a campaign in the hands of public user customisation is risky business. Big games provide big opportunities but, as Walkers has learnt, come alongside risk of increased exposure if it all goes wrong. Ultimately, high-profile campaigns such as these should be well-proofed, with potential pitfalls identified and avoided. Walkers failed on that front and have now been left with a PR disaster on their hands.

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