Who will win the World Cup? Pt.3

Battle of the brands - World Cup sponsorship

Part III: The Finale

Brazil 2014 will be the set for another epic power struggle between Nike and Adidas

Nike have traditionally outshone the FIFA sponsors Adidas in terms of ‘buzz’ surrounding its marketing prior to previous tournaments, with this year no different, and early signs showing they’re winning the battle for customers as well.

Both companies have a lot at stake, Nike are looking to gain ever higher profits in football sales than the £1.2bn achieved last year, whilst Adidas are targeting a total of £1.6bn in football sales to halt sales declines across many of its key markets.

Prior to the World Cup starting Adidas had said that they were “definitely” on track to net the additional revenue they had forecasted. The brand has gradually built demand for its products since last November to ease the pressure on its tournaments trading.

In the weeks coming up to the competition we saw a flurry of advertising activity with Nike creating their “Winner Stays” advert turning a generic kids football match into a surreal star-studded affair, transforming the kids into their idols one-by-one. Adidas led their campaign with “The Dream”, relatively self-explained, illustrating Leo Messi’s World Cup dream, and a last frame allowing you a choice between ‘all in’ or ‘nothing’.

Closer to the tournament starting and carrying forward into the tournament Nike and Adidas have released further adverts. Nike have developed avatars of their poster boys Neymar Jr and Ronaldo as a part of their “Risk Everything” strategy.


Adidas on the other hand adopted a more ‘human’ approach by calling on footballing legends Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham in their “All in, or nothing” campaign.

The efforts to date have seen Nike take a commanding lead over Adidas when it comes to harnessing buzz around their brand and the World Cup. Nike secured 200,118 social mentions between the 20 April and 6 June, according to communications agency Way to Blue, with 99,725 positive affinity mentions about the brand and its World Cup campaign. Adidas sparked 88,041 mentions in comparison with 9,530 of these posts discussing a positive affinity with their campaign.

However, it is not just in the attention stakes Nike seems to be winning out. Purchase intent for the American company jumped 2.1 points to 14.6 over the last month, a statistically significant rise according to YouGov’s Brand Index, while Adidas’ score dropped 0.3 points to 10.9.


The verdict so far

It’s all even in terms of teams;

Brazil (Nike) vs. Germany (Adidas)

Netherlands (Nike) vs. Argentina (Adidas)

But as the figures show, Nike is winning the sporting brand battle, after initial Adidas success prior to the World Cup, Nikes’ advertising leading up to and during the tournament have helped them jump ahead of their biggest rivals.

However, as Brazil’s Quarter Final match against Columbia drew to a close Neymar Jr was fouled and sustained a fractured vertebrae ruling him out of the rest of the tournament, a huge blow for Brazil, and Nike as both of their pre-tournament poster boys will now not kick another ball in this year’s tournament. Adidas and Leo Messi could yet snatch both the brand and footballing World Cup from under Nikes noses.

The questions now are; will Adidas be able to force their way back into contention to win one over their rivals Nike? Can Adidas’ real-time campaign prove to be a success? More of the same from Nike or will they raise the bar higher?

And finally, will we get a Nike vs. Adidas final showdown? I hope so…

More to come, watch this space. Is it the right time for real-time?