China will see the biggest boost in World Cup ad dollars – even though it didn’t qualify for the soccer tournament

Mascots for sale ahead of the 2018 Russia World Cup
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Businesses in China are set to spend an additional $835 million on advertising ahead of the World Cup, which starts in a week's time.

The twist is that the Chinese didn't qualify for the soccer tournament, coming bottom of their group during qualifying matches in Doha, Qatar, last September.

But according to figures from media group Zenith out Thursday, China will see the biggest boost in ad dollars of any country, ahead of the U.S., which will spend an additional $400 million, and host nation Russia, which will see a $64 million increase.

To put that in context, China spent $80.4 billion on advertising in 2017, while the U.S. led the world with $197.5 billion, while Russia sent $6.1 billion according to Zenith.

"There are few established brand relationships with the World Cup in China, and this year advertisers have been aggressively bidding to establish their association with football," Zenith said in an online statement.

One big Chinese advertiser will be dairy company Mengniu, which signed as an official FIFA sponsor in December. It will provide the World Cup's "official drinkable yoghurt" in China, as well as other products, and will air commercials in 64 World Cup games as part of its deal. Mengniu is in the second level of sponsorship, while Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate Wanda Group is a top-tier partner, having signed up in 2016.

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A trio of Western brands — Continental, Johnson & Johnson and Castrol — opted not to renew their sponsorship deals in 2015, the same year as reports of corruption at the top of FIFA came to light.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is a big soccer fan, and has previously stated that he wants the country's team to win the World Cup. He's also said that he'd like China to host the tournament and intends to bid for the 2030 event. China is already an investor in soccer teams elsewhere, with a private equity consortium putting $400 million into City Football Group in 2015.

Overall, the media industry can expect advertisers to spend an additional $2.4 billion globally due to the tournament, with brands hoping to reach a global World Cup audience of 3.5 billion people.

"As well as producing large audiences — in some countries, the largest of the year — the World Cup disproportionately attracts people who are hard to reach on television: young, upmarket and mobile consumers who are more likely to spend their time outside the home and adopt the latest media technologies," Zenith added.

"The World Cup provides a reliable boost to the global ad market every four years, and will be responsible for 10 percent of all the growth in ad dollars this year," said Jonathan Barnard, Zenith's head of forecasting and director of global intelligence. "This year's tournament will showcase the brand-building powers of both traditional television and social media."

- CNBC's Shafi Musaddique contributed to this report.