Tag Archive | "World Cup"

Ambush Marketing or Good Integrated Marketing?

The World Cup in South Africa has dominated the airwaves (social and traditional) for the past month and much of the recent conversation has been around the ‘ambush marketing’ tactics we have seen from non official sponsors like Nike and Pepsi and how they stole a march on their official sponsor competitors, Adidas and Coca-Cola. While the balance seems to have now been addressed it was interesting to see how the media landscape has shifted in the last four years (since the last tournament) to such an extent that sponsorship of a major event is no longer enough, on its own, to command the lions’ share of audience attention and WOM.

This is the first World Cup that we have had established, organized social media channels  and they have moved the goalposts in terms of what is needed to be covered in corporate marketing mixes to own the airwaves and conversations between fans. Sponsorship used to be all you needed to do to ‘own’ the conversation and dominate WOM. You now need a fully integrated program that covers all the channels and that includes social media along with TV, offline and exposure in the stadiums.

Nike showed, with their ‘write the future’ video, that you don’t need to be a sponsor to create viral content around a context and get the same or increased return…plus they bought well placed 30 sec ad slots in the key games encouraging viewers to head online to see the full version. In contrast, Adidas focused far more on social media at the expense of heavy TV ads…and this may be why Nike were able to steal the jump on them so early in the tournament.

Commercial partners of sporting events, or any other event for that matter need to cover all the bases. Use the exclusive relationship they have with the event to generate exclusive content that they can give to their online audience as well as realizing the traditional channels should not be ignored but rather weaved into the overall communication strategy. Being a major sponsor for an event is a huge advantage and one that can provide significant value over the competition…but it isn’t enough on its own anymore.

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Nike Wrote Its Future

For those who are familiar with my posts, I have pointed out the major football brands, and the key players in football marketing. Most of them are either FIFA sponsors or FIFA partners. The FIFA World Cup sponsors benefit from a tremendous marketing platform to showcase their producs, link their brand image to the biggest football event in the world, promote  online and offline activities, engage with consumers,  and ultimately have an exclusive component as an official sponsor.

The strategy to heavily invest in being a FIFA sponsor could be justified based on the above mentioned advantages. However, a recent survey by The Nielsen Company* showed that Nike was more frequently linked to the World Cup than any of the tournament’s official partners and sponsors. The survey analyzed online blogs, social networking platforms and came to the conclusion that the Swoosh was fully part of the FIFA World Cup landscape, and engraved in consumer’s minds.

With no doubt, the huge online buzz made by the “write the future” campaign strongly contributed to put Nike under the football spotlights. The viral was launched mid-may and had more than 3 million viewers the first week. So far, 14 million viewers enjoyed the video online.  Nike’s biggest stars were featured in the video:  Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney and even Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer and Homer Simpson. Not sure the latter is a Nike athlete though.


Rank Brand Type % Share of Official and Competitor Buzz**
1 Nike Non-affiliated Competitor 30.2%
2 adidas FIFA Partner 14.4%
3 Coca-Cola FIFA Partner 11.8%
4 Sony FIFA Partner 11.7%
5 Visa FIFA Partner 7.3%
6 Carlsberg Non-affiliated Competitor 3.9%
7 McDonald’s FIFA World Cup™ Sponsor 2.8%
8 Pepsi Non-affiliated Competitor 2.5%
9 Hyundai/Kia FIFA Partner 2.4%
10 Panasonic Non-affiliated Competitor 1.9%
Source: The Nielsen Company
**Share of online buzz across the 10 sponsors/partners with a global footprint and two of their major competitors in English language messages related to the World Cup from May 7 to June 6.

I pointed out in a previous article, that Nike, adidas, Puma are widely acknowledged as football brands. It seems that not being a FIFA (nor UEFA) sponsor does not stop Nike from succesfully link its brand to the biggest football competition. The “Write the Future” campaign only did not contribute to those facts. It must be added that Nike sponsors 9 teams at World Cup, provides outfit to several players including superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and many others. On top of that, on February 25, the Swoosh launched a powerful campaign “taking ownership” of the sustainable component in football.

This strategy seem to pay off as Nike has managed to leverage its brands, products, activities in football around the World Cup without being a sponsor i.e without paying any sponsorship fees to FIFA.

Let me add one thing. I do remember back in 1994 after the World Cup in the US, a statement from Phil Knight (Co-Founder and CEO of Nike) about football. His goal was to make Nike THE global football brand.  I was a student at that time and was quite doubtful about this objective. To me, Nike was a Basketball brand with Michael Jordan as an icon, period.  I bet I was not the only one. However, one year later, Nike partnered with CBF (The Brazil National Team) then with, players, european clubs etc.

The results and facts speak for themselves, but what is interesting to point out is that this achievement has been done without being a FIFA sponsor or partner. Other brands such as Carlsberg and Pepsi are adopting a similar strategy although the results are not yet to be compared with Nike’s.

Don’t get me wrong, by no means do I say that it is not worth it to be a FIFA sponsor. I think  the contrary. It is key for a brand to associate with FIFA hence World Cup and benefit from all sponsorship components. Nevertheless, I must be pointed out that some brands, and in the present case, Nike managed to create a strong link between their brand and an event they do not sponsor. I would echo Pete Blackshaw (Executive vice president of digital strategy at The Nielsen Company) “If you’re a company with a large global footprint, it’s natural to want to associate yourself with a major worldwide event like the World Cup”

I am a big believer in strong competition. It makes other brands work harder, be more creative, think out of the box, and keep the stimulation flow on. For sure, the other football brands will strike back, and it’s….”for the good of the game” right?

I would be delighted to hear your thoughts.


*Nielsen’s study, conducted between May 7th to June 6th 2010, looked at English language World Cup-related messages on blogs, message boards, groups, video and image sites – including Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter – that mentioned at least one of the 10 official FIFA partners and sponsors with a global footprint or two of their top competitors (30 brands in all).

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Empty Seats and Unsold Hospitality – A Successful South African World Cup So Far?

There were fears before the World Cup and now it is becoming a reality.  Attendances at some of the games have been lower than expected and the blame is being firmly laid at the doorsteps of corporate, foreign and government ticket holders.

FIFA is said to be pleased with the overall attendances, which are slightly higher than at the same stage in Germany in 2006.  But some of the figures are being disputed as games that have been declared sell outs, just 4 of the 11 so far, despite empty seats and boxes clearly visible to those attending. 

“We have made some group sales to large organisations and companies, but some ticket holders have not come. We are not talking about unsold tickets, we are talking about sold tickets which have not been occupied,” said a FIFA spokesman.

“What we have realised in our investigations is that some ticket holders, including international ticket holders, have not turned up. We clearly recognise this [the empty seats] but you have to recognise the bigger picture. It’s not nice to see empty seats in a stadium but the attendances are good.”

Sales of general tickets have been hampered by a lack of internet access amongst locals and a lack of football culture amongst the more affluent white population but the global recession has also had an impact on the sale of corporate hospitality packages, which have been a great source of income for host countries in the past.

Leading international corporate hospitality provider PROSKE group’s head of sports, Andreja Wieser, says: “Without doubt the economic down-turn has had an impact on the sale of hospitality seats reserved for corporations and sponsors at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The result of this will be that more unsold tickets will go back onto the open market. In such cases, the demand for lower end hospitality will be higher.

“The economic downturn has affected people´s perception of hospitality. Corporations and sponsors have become more cautious about buying hospitality packages, programmes or tickets. At the same time, people´s perceptions on whether to accept hospitality invitations or not has changed, too. The last thing that people want to see in times of downturns is spending unnecessary money. Corporate decision makers look harder to see whether the use of hospitality is justifiable and ensure that there is no over-indulgence. In times of recession, companies want to ensure that high costs for large events are a secure investment.”

But Wieser believes that corporate hospitality still has a value at international sports competitions.

She added: “Hospitality at major sporting events is still used as a popular marketing tool for global corporations. Major sports events such as the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, may continue counting on their unbowed popularity and remain an attractive platform for sponsors due to its high popularity. Sporting events have always been popular choices for corporate hospitality and can bring long term benefits. Face to face corporate hospitality is vital in developing and sustaining business relations. It is the sustainability that matters and makes the difference.”

We shall see if the situation improves as we move into the knock-out stages later in the month but for now the site of empty boxes and seats is going to be here to stay. 

 Would love to hear from you in you are one of the ‘stay away’ fans who have bought tickets but not made the journey or if you have a view on the situation….

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adidas beat Nike to win the World Cup

Herbert Hainer, CEO Adidas, speaks openly and honestly about his efforts to knock Nike off the Top Spot in 2010 by leveraging the firm’s $200 million World Cup sponsorship push to its full advantage.

Currently within spitting distance of Nike’s 2007 €11.1 billion revenue, Herbert explains how the World Cup equates to big wins for brands like Adidas in terms of sponsorship, advertising and exposure. “The World Cup is definitely the biggest event for us,” he admits, adding that football is in the DNA of the sporting giant.

A global presence

Already it is widely known that Adidas will have the greatest sanctioned presence during this month’s FIFA World Cup. Not only is the brand an official top-tier partner of the tournament, but it also sponsors the highest number of teams competing in the finals – boasting the likes of Argentina, France, Spain, Germany, and host nation South Africa among those teams that will be brandishing the famous three-stripe logo. As such, Herbert promises to capitalise on such marketing investment with new and exciting products to market.

“In my opinion this industry is clearly product-driven and the product is innovation. Innovation, in my opinion, is the key to success.” Herbert continues, “we have to bring out one complete new innovative product every season, and so far we have even exceeded this promise. We are bringing permanently new, innovative products to the market, and I think this is one of the key success factors for us.”

Such innovative thinking does not go unnoticed. For the 11th year in succession, for instance, Adidas has earned the right to field their version of a world-class official ball. The “Jabulani” ball, which means “to celebrate” in Bantu, will be used by the world’s biggest sports stars this summer as a result.

The innovation of the Adidas ball, is mind-blowing. Featuring completely new, ground-breaking technology, the ball is constructed of eight 3-D spherically formed EVA and TPU panels that are moulded together, resulting in an energetic unit combined with perfect roundness. In addition, it seems the number 11 adds further symbolism to the ball, not only signifying the 11th year that Adidas have created the official World Cup ball, but also highlighting other heavy cultural references: the 11 tribes of South Africa; and the number of players in a football team. And, in honour of this, 11 colours are used on the official design.

Nike, meanwhile, are fighting back. Adidas’ biggest rivals recently released an advertising video that when viral in just 10 days, with over 8.5 million plays on YouTube. The question now is, as competition heats up on the field, how will these sporting giants face the music off the pitch as well?

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Panini World Cup Sticker Albums – The Original Social Media

I have to put my hands up right from the outset and admit that I only have a casual interest in football. A quick scan of the results and league tables on a Saturday afternoon and the all too occasional trip to the Madejski Stadium to watch The Royals play but that’s about it.

My career has been entirely consumed by fast cars whizzing around race tracks, but thankfully I do realise that there is more than one Alonso in the sporting world. But whenever the World Cup comes around, an unexplainable sense of national pride takes over and I find myself wanting to fill the vacuum in my head where the previous four years of football knowledge would otherwise have been stored.

Recently, I have persuaded my 5-year-old son to start collecting Panini stickers for this year’s 2010 South Africa World Cup. Again, I have to be honest, this was initially more an excuse for me to recreate a childhood hobby than providing my son with a new pastime, but thankfully for both of us, he has more than come around to the idea.

With Nigeria and Ivory Coast fast filling up, it dawned on me that the classic Panini sticker album is a classic social media tool. It is about a company using an international sporting event to tap into the wider public conscience and attract a long-lasting brand association.

My first Panini album was Mexico ’86, a contest best remembered by English fans for Diego Maradona’s Hand of God and Gary Lineker’s Golden Boot. Four year later, Italia ’90, think Schillaci, Gascoigne, Roger Milla. All of these things stick firmly in my mind and for someone with a self-admitted passing interest in football that’s quite something. It proves the power of football extends far beyond the loyal fans who frequent the terraces and embrace the sport as if it were their own creation.  

Panini’s sticker albums allow kids (and us big kids) to get passionate about a sport that might otherwise have been just on the periphery of interest. Just last week, Joshua (that’s my son) and I had a Charlie Bucket moment, when the silvery foil of one of the album’s team emblems glistened out of the packet. That is a moment of triumph, a feeling of obtaining one of the book’s more elusive stickers. I recalled with clarity that same feeling all those years ago and the feeling of triumph when we completed a team’s double page (the first one I finished for Italia 90 was Sweden and I chose them as my adopted team after England).

The social aspect of sticker collecting, of course, comes with the frustrating concept of swaps. There is nothing more frustrating than finding stickers in your pack that you have already got, especially if you’ve been waiting all week for a new pack.  But then comes the opportunity to exchange with your mates… Just like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, any of today’s social media platforms, it is the ultimate sharing experience, learning from each other, drawing upon each other’s involvement. Who doesn’t remember the playground monotony of ‘Got…got…got…need…got…got…need’.

In a world where iPads, 3D HD Plasma screens and endless websites are offering fully interactive media options, it is refreshing that Panini sticker albums still exist. It may be my advancing years, my thirty-something tendency for nostalgia, but I hope Panini sticker albums continue to find their rightful place in households the world over and continue to unite sports fans around the world. As FIFA’s portfolio of partners and World Cup sponsors explore new ways to tap into this stream of public interest in the World Cup, to find new ways to activate their already costly sponsorship deals and to experiment with this still unexplained ‘social media’ concept, just look at Panini, a fifty year old Italian company who have been tapping into a much more traditional form of social and personal activity for decades and with such global success.

Now does anybody need Lukas Podsolski?

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The FA and social media – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Tuesday, ( 1st June), was a massive day for the England national team, and for us the fans, as this was the day England’s final 23 man squad for the upcoming World Cup was announced.

A day which started out with great promise for the FA ended up being a very mixed one, and one that they probably learnt a lot about the social media world from, so without further ado – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

The Good.

The day started very well for the FA, with the launch of their new “Believe in England” Facebook app which allows fans to get their very own England squad number and display it on their Facebook profile.

The app seems to have exploded onto the scene, I discovered the app early on in the day and got the squad number 323, and in just over a day there are now 29,214England fans (as of 10am Wednesday) who have claimed their squad number.

The numbers 1-23 are taken up by the England players, with a number of shirts also given away to famous England fans such as Tim Lovejoy and Ray Winstone. Other special numbers include 66 representing  the Bobby Moore foundation, 2012 representing The London Olympics and representing the England 2018 World Cup bid.

This app is a great way for the FA to spread their “Believe in England” message and also drive greater connection and engagement with fans.

The Bad.

There was mass speculation around who will be the unlucky 7 dropped from the squad since England’s game against Japan, and this speculation naturally came to a boiling point on Tuesday with thousands upon thousands of England fans predicting who would be dropped and who would make it.

The FA had said that the official squad will be announced on TheFA.com at some point Tuesday, and of course there was always going to be speculation amongst fans and I’m sure the FA expected this – it’s when this speculation started to come from various journalists and respected news sources that it all started to gain a head of steam.

From what I understand Fabio Cappello wanted to speak to the 7 dropped players personally and let them know about his decision, and I think that is the best way he could have handled the situation – if you’re dropped from a World Cup squad the least you deserve is a personal message, and I think Cappello was spot on with this approach.

Where this approach fell down however was via social media – had the FA underestimated the power of Twitter? And the speed at which news can travel nowadays?

With the 7 players seemingly being told that they’d been dropped at different times throughout the afternoon, it was always going to be difficult to keep it under wraps. News of Darren Bent’s exclusion was first to break and was confirmed on Twitter by one of his friends, and the biggest story of the day – Theo Walcott’s absence from the squad – broke soon after, and I believe one national paper had even run a story about this on their website well before the official squad announcement.

By the time The FA Tweeted this message “Plenty of speculation about #EnglandSquad, but rest assured this and TheFA.com will be the first place you hear confirmation of final 23” at around 2 O’clock most of the fans already knew the major stories and could name at least 5 of the dropped players.

As I said earlier maybe the FA had underestimated the power of social media and what started out as a big win for the FA with the launch of their “Believe in England” app, turned into a bit of a shambles with the squad announcement, and as Chris Hughes said in his recent article: Did they really expect the rejected players to keep quiet in the many hours between the dreaded phone call and the FA announcement?

The Ugly.

From early on Tuesday morning the FA said that the official squad announcement would be put up on TheFA.com, which initially I thought made sense as it would be easily accessible (I thought).

However, from around lunch time if you wanted to check the FA’s official website you were going to struggle, the site was taking an age to load – I’m guessing due to the high volume of traffic seeking out the final England 23 – and eventually I just gave up with checking the site and found all the information I needed via social media. I wasn’t alone in doing this either, I noticed many other Tweets from people complaining about troubles with TheFA.com.

In the end I didn’t look at the official site to see the final squad, I already knew most of it from Tweets and speculation flying around, once the squad was confirmed (and even before) the news was up on hundreds of other sources (which all loaded).

In hindsight, maybe TheFA.com wasn’t the best place to announce the final squad?


I’ve not written this article to get on the back of The FA, and I hope it doesn’t come across this way. It’s great that they are getting involved in social media and as I stated at the top of this article their new Facebook page and App is brilliant and a great way to further engage fans prior to the World Cup, I just feel that their approach to social media with regards to the squad announcement and also their website could have done with a bit more planning.

How do you feel the FA could have handled this situation better?

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Walcott plays a PR blinder as FA/Capello lose out to Twitter

Tuesday was judgement day for England Manager Fabio Capello as he named the 23 men who will board the jumbo to South Africa for this month’s World Cup.

A rather dismal 2-1 win over Japan on Sunday (with Japanese players scoring all three goals) was apparently enough for Capello to make up his mind, but he kept tight-lipped until yesterday’s much anticipated announcement. Ironic then that after all the secrecy England football fans found out from Twitter, albeit unofficially, which seven players would be dropped from Capello’s initial short list of 30.

The moment that Theo Walcott’s name was mentioned as one of the casualties, the Twittersphere erupted. The young teenage sensation who was unexpectedly called up to the 2006 squad having never kicked a ball in Premier league competition was now equally unexpectedly omitted from the 2010 line-up. 

But rather than nip the leak in the bud and bring forward the official announcement from its allotted 3pm time slot, the FA instead delayed it to the tune of one hour. Did the FA or Mr. Capello not expect names to leak, for speculation to be rife at what is the biggest single piece of news in English football this year? Were there not contingencies in place to counter Twitter rumour? Or for that matter did they really expect the rejected players to keep quiet in the many hours between the dreaded phone call and the FA announcement?

One person played a stroke of PR genius and that was Walcott himself who immediately issued a statement saying:  “I am very disappointed not to be included in the squad going out to South Africa, but completely respect Mr Capello’s decision. I would like to wish the team the best of luck and hope they have a really successful tournament.”

A brilliant move. Not only did he manage to steal a march on the FA and Fabio Capello but he showed grace and maturity in wishing the team well in South Africa. He might not have won a place in the final 23 but his PR tactics are world class.

The Daily Telegraph summed up the feelings succinctly when Claudine Beaumont signed off with: “Fingers crossed the England team has a better grasp of formations, tactics and training methods than it does social media…”

And there is the crux of the problem; there continues to be lack of appreciation for the impact that social media platforms are having in sport. Traditional press releases and web announcements still have their place but sometimes the weight of expectation requires more urgency and a better understanding of a fan’s resourcefulness.

Mr. Capello and the FA would be wise to learn from this experience because the path to World Cup glory is not paved with generous Japanese defenders…

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Nike’s new ‘Write The Future’ advert – genius!

Tomorrow’s Champions League Final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich will see the Television debut of the Nike’s new epic football commercial.  Not only will TV viewers love it but it is set to become another viral phenomenon as it gets tweeted and imbedded in blogs like this around the world.

The ‘write the future’ ad shows how footballers such as Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba have the ability to change their destinies with one pass on the looming World Cup stage.

Directed by renowned Hollywood artisan Alejandro G. Iñarritu (21 Grams, Babel), the ad features guest appearances by Roger Federer, Kobe Bryant and, in a moment of sheer comic genius, Homer Simpson (is hillarious and worth waiting for).  Seeing a bearded Rooney living in a caravan is a great touch as well.  Hats off to Nike for this one.

I’m sure you will love it as well and is well worth a few minutes of your Friday afternoon…….. enjoy!

Write The Future from Nalden on Vimeo.

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Danny Jordaan, the 2010 World Cup Maestro

Danny Jordaan is the most important man in football at the moment. He fought to bring the World Cup to Africa and is now in charge of the success of the most important sporting event worldwide.

Jordaan 58 years old, is a former teacher and a member of  the Steve Biko’s anti-apartheid South African Students’ Organisation in the 60′s. In 1997 he became head of SAFA (South Africa Football Association) in order to be fully dedicated on the 2006 and 2010 World Cup bids.

The upcoming World Cup in South Africa is the result of  more than 13 years of hard work. Indeed, he fought to bring the World Cup to South Africa by bidding for the 2006 World Cup which was narrowly lost to Germany. Danny did not let go and kept on working to finally win the 2010 bid and host the World Cup in his homeland. With the World Cup 52 days away, Jordaan is now the most important man in the whole world of sports and he has to deliver an event some are keen on “bazooka-ing” for various reasons.

At the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, a fan asked Jordaan: “What will you give us in our hearts to show our children and grandchildren?” His reply: “We want to achieve something that has never happened in our country and continent for a hundred years. How will it touch your lives? Job creation and economic growth.” (source: The Guardian).

Jordaan is dealing with a great and powerfully important task. Deliver a successful World Cup on the African soil for the first time in its history but most importantly bring and sustainable economic growth to the country. Not an easy duty if you ask me. But Danny is showing in press conferences confidence in an upcoming successful World Cup. I read the other day that if he was given 1 pound every time he was asked about security in South Africa, he would be the richest man in the country. He gave the following answer to James Emmett (SportsProMedia.com): “The question of security is always important for any major event, not just because about crime but also whether there is any threat globally whether it is terrorism or any other threat; these matters must be considered carefully by any event organisers”.

Very good answer. Yes security is a concern, but must not be THE main issue. To my knowledge, South Africa already has an experience in organising sports events. In cricket for example, South Africa hosted The World Cup in 2003,  the Twenty20 World Championships in 2007. In addition, the Tri Nations rugby tournament took place in South Africa in 2009 and was a great success.

I am therefore surprised at the general scepticism at the capacity of South Africa to organise the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Yes much more football fans will come to the World Cup, but again the knowledge and knowhow is there. As a comparison, I was a volunteer during the 1998 World Cup in France, and 2 months before World Cup kicked off, Stade de France was not 100% completed, there were logistic issues, and strike threats (it can happen in France) and security was also a concern……..the medias were not raising the red flag as they do now for the World Cup in South Africa. I interviewed Gavin Cowley (adidas South Africa Marketing Director), and he is very confident and optimistic for a succesful football event: “I believe that we continue to surprise many of the doomsayers.  Our stadia are all completed; the cities are ready, revamped airports are world class.  There is no question that we will be ready to welcome the world!”

Danny Jordaan is handling a difficult task and he is doing a great job, not only at working on delivering a top class football event, but also at convincing the world that South Africa is ready to welcome local and foreign fans. With the strong involvement of FIFA, sponsors and football partners, the organising committee is set for success.

Finally, I had the pleasure to meet Danny Jordaan in 2003 in Johannesburg. He is a charismatic individual with a powerful intelligence. His humility and vision make him a unique and likeable character. He is very much aware of the heavy responsibilities he is carrying on his shoulders but  the organising committee and himself have  the strong willingness to show the world that a FIFA World Cup can be a frank success on the African Continent.

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3 Powerful Players

According to a Sport+Markt survey, Sportswear brands adidas, Nike and Puma are the most recognisable football sponsors in the top five European markets.[1]

Nike, adidas and Puma will all play a key marketing role on the pitch during the FIFA World Cup 2010.  Indeed, with 12 teams qualified for the event, adidas is leading the way, followed by Nike with 9 teams and Puma with 7 Federations attending.

Since the World Cup 1998 in France, a strong business marketing model has been in place.  Enjoying the exclusive rights of the usage of the FIFA World Cup marks, FIFA partners enjoy significant exposure of the World’s biggest event.  This business model strengthened during the World Cup in Korea & Japan and became a benchmark in 2006 during the fantastic German World Cup.  But if we take a closer look at what is happening on the field of play, the 3 leading football brands will enjoy unprecedented exposure this year.

Let’s start with the 3-stripes.  Indeed, adidas has already secured its ticket for the World Cup final. How?  By having the official match ball for each World Cup game (ongoing since 1970).  Indeed, the Jabulani will be present throughout the whole competition.  Next, with 12 teams participating and key players performing, adidas will send a strong football message…..as usual.  In addition to that, we football marketers will expect a powerful “Impossible is Nothing” campaign with some inspirational onsite marketing activities. I am sure there will be more, much more, but I am writing an article, not a novel.

The answer from Nike will for sure be there but is it going to be an answer?  Who knows, may be Nike will shoot first?  Anyway, the message will be big, powerful, inspirational and we can expect a kick ass marketing campaign from the Swoosh. Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney, Fabregas and Pato will be screened and will wear the latest Mercurial or T90 boots. With 9 teams qualified, Nike will also benefit from a strong on pitch exposure. We can expect Nike to send (another) bold football marketing message to the football world. Again here, there will be more from the American brand, but the way the message will be delivered will be worth watching.

Puma have played it differently. At the African Cup of Nations, Puma was everywhere.  On the field of play, Jochen Zeitz’s brand had two teams in the final, launched an inspirational marketing campaign (Love=football), established a solid partnership with Kehinde Wiley[2] and created a bridge between the African Cup of Nations and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  This was smart wasn’t it?  With 7 teams in South Africa, Puma does not want to be left behind, and make its football presence felt.  Puma will count on its African icon Samuel Eto’o to communicate to a broader African and Global audience.

With the increase of social media in football it will be interesting to pay attention to this strong new marketing medium.  Puma, adidas and Nike are all using social media but HOW will they use this platform to interact with fans during the World Cup? How will they engage with the fans and be as close to them as possible? We can expect to see massive activity on Facebook, MySpace etc during the World Cup.

Also the first ever World Cup in Africa triggers a heavy social responsibility outreach, not only from the “Big 3” but from all sponsors and partners involved in the event. I bet there will be an close scrutiny on this point.

Gavin Cowley, Marketing Director of adidas South Africa said[3]:

adidas has a strong social responsibility programme.  Often major events are geared to the big cities.  However the adidas UMU programme visits townships throughout the country, adidas supports the FIFA Football for Hope movement in the townships, a partnership with SCORE (Sports Coaches Outreach) ensures that football is used as a tool to send out strong social messages to young people and there are many other initiatives that contribute to assisting those underprivileged people.”

I would like to think that all other partners or sponsors will have a similar approach. Show the world that CSR is a long term commitment, not a “thrown in” concept with no true involvement.  In a nutshell, I am looking forward to seeing the inspiration and generosity of the marketing giants during the World Cup.  Traditional marketing will happen, but what of new marketing techniques such as social media?

Thinking out of the box, being smart, flexible, bold and true are often the values football brands claim. In South Africa, they will have the pressure to put them all to use more than ever….

adidas: 12 teams

(South Africa, Mexico, France, Denmark, Japan, Argentina, Nigeria, Greece, Paraguay, Slovakia, Germany, Spain)

Nike: 9 teams

(Netherlands, Korea Republic, New Zealand, USA, Slovenia, Brazil, Portugal, Australia, Serbia)

Puma: 7 teams

(Uruguay, Cameroon, Italy, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Switerland)

Umbro: 1 team


Joma: 1 team


Erke[4]: 1 team

(Korea DPR)

[1] http://www.sportbusiness.com/news/171530/sportswear-brands-top-sponsor-recognition-list

[2] http://africa.puma.com/#/artist/

[3] http://www.theuksportsnetwork.com/?p=200

[4] North Korea football shirts made by China, Hongxing Erke Group was founded in June 2000, manufacture and marketing of sports goods under its “ERKE” brands.

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