The World Cup is a marketing man's dream. No creativity required - just align yourself with something that already exists and is extremely popular, and bingo!
I ventured a full quarter of a mile from my house to a local supermarket to check out the best and worst World Cup related (official or unofficial) products.
While there was nothing to beat the limited edition Cross of St George wheelbarrow on sale in B&Q, World Cup tie-ins were in abundant supply.
Walkers Flavour Cup
In the old days, if they were feeling bold, Walker's might release a new flavour for the World Cup (impala and onion, something like that). This year they have released a full 15 in the name of a 'Flavour Cup' heartily endorsed by Gary Lineker. I have not sampled all of them (Charlie Brooker has, 10 points if you guess which one tastes like 'inhaling a pub dustbin on Monday morning') but from my limited research it is abundantly clear why nobody had bothered to render haggis, paella, and spaghetti bolognese into crisp form before now. But the bratwurst one is pretty good. Trust the Germans to win even when it's fried potato snacks.
Pringles (sorry, Pringoooals!) play the new media card and play it well, courtesy of their all-conquering Facebook applicarion - featuring an excruciatingly wooden video of Peter Crouch discussing his 'legendary' goal celebrations. Not sure they'll make much money during the tournament - tubes of the reformed potato snacks are bogof at the moment.
Unsurprisingly, purveyors of generic lager have gone football crazy in an attempt to bring the nation's collective liver to a standstill. Away from the official drinks Budweiser (FIFA) and Carlsberg (England), plenty of other attempt a World Cup link. Kronenbourg goes for 'Who Wants To Be A ***shoehorn alert*** Football ***end shoehorn alert*** Millionaire?' while other beers just get a ball slapped next to the label, in case anyone forgets they can be sampled while there's a game on. Or first thing in the morning. Whenever you like...
The Football Fun Collection
A motley crew of products with little or nothing to do with football, all coming under the 'Football Fun Collection' - almost like a Hanseatic League of bangwagon-jumpers. The brands involved can just about be linked to football if you think hard enough:
Pampers - because footballers need their backsides wiping for them
Flash - wipe the floor with the opposition
Oral B - prove your team's attack isn't toothless
Duracell - you do the assault, we do the battery
England football (official England product)
Well, at least cut-price footballs have something to do with football, even in the one with players' autographs features one 'T. Walcott'. Flies straighter than a Jabulani or your money back. The basic ball was a competitively-priced manager's special at £4, with the 'signature' edition £6.
Frosties and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
Part of an exciting-sounding but rather nebulous 'FREE Feast of Football' which mentions this summer's 'football frenzy' (as an unofficial product it cannot say what that frenzy is), but appears to offer little more than a few football-themed ringtones.
Mars vs Kit-Kat
Mars of the official chocolate, caramel and nougat bar of the England team, and are reportedly unhappy with Kit-Kat's 'ambush' marketing via their unofficial 'Fingers Crossed campaign. Funny, since that's what they did four years ago when they rebranded the bar 'Believe'. The two were next door to each other on competing stands in my supermarket.
Frijj do a great job on the ambush marketing front, World Cup-ifying their milkshakes with nothing more than a cross of St George and the word 'cheer' in the name of the flavour.
Obnoxious jingoism is the order of the day, as you might expect, for Peperami, who offer a 'Shouting Football Mascot' who spouts phrases like: 'Hey Argies, try handing me!' and 'Spain, you're full of bull!' It's like having a mini Nick Griffin in your own front room.
Money back offers
A few companies must have smiled after Robert Green's howler against the USA after offering money-back deals based on England's performance. Consumers who bought their Toshiba laptop or TomTom sat nav before the tournament will get a full refund if England win the whole shooting match, while Curry's are refunding £10 off TVs for each goal they score. Own goals do not count. It is a great gimmick, as it exploit's the public's irrational optimism while costing the firms in question little or nothing.
It all rather makes you wonder why Robinson's and Evian bothered to put up their stand promoting something called 'The Championships - Wimbledon'. Never heard of it myself.
Oh, and I bought a vuvuzela. Pleasingly cacophonous.