The Real World Cup: Nike vs Adidas

Germany may have beaten USA in the World Cup, but the Americans have scored their own goals in the branding stakes.


Behind all the football fever of the 2014 World Cup is an even bigger battle brewing and it isn’t even between the Spain or Brazil teams. It is between the two giant sports brands, Germany’s Adidas and USA’s Nike.

Adidas has long ruled on the football field often outdoing Nike in sales while designing the official match ball and retaining the official FIFA World Cup sponsor position since 1970. Despite this wonderful publicity for the brand with soccer fans everywhere dribbling the official 2014 ‘Brazuca’ soccer ball plastered with the Adidas logo, Nike has managed to equal Adidas’ sales during the World Cup.

This draw could well be considered a win for Nike as they are the underdogs in this heated competition and have managed to outwit their Goliath-sized competitor through some cleverly targeted marketing strategies.

While Adidas paid $70 million for the official sponsor position and create the uniforms for nine of the teams, Nike has approached the issue in a more targeted manner. Rather than securing their logo across an entire team, the American company has picked several of the biggest celebrities in the competition.

Nike has secured some of the biggest players in the game including Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Neymar Júnior, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Andrés Iniesta, David Luiz, Franck Ribéry, Tim Howard and Ronaldo Fenomeno. These players hail from a wide range of teams and are well respected by all countries which means that a Nike connection with any of these influential players acts as an advertisement not only to their country of origin but also the soccer community who worship the ground on which these athletes walk.

The second component of this campaign revolves around the creation of a story. Nike have created a number of advertisements and videos centred on promoting the alliance with these players while providing the audience with an engaging and memorable story to discuss with their equally-interested friends. Check out the best video:

This five and a half minute cartoon details the desolate landscape that the Earth would become if risk was removed from football and all the players were replaced with programmable droids that did not have any weaknesses. Out of this bleak future, the Nike sponsored athletes rise to take on the evil powers behind this destructive plan to restore the competition in football and save the world.

Okay, it is probably a bit dramatic to happen in real life, but nonetheless it provides a memorable story and shareable experience which satisfies a lot of football fans’ desires to further engage with their sporting heroes!

In a competition where Nike entered as the underdog, they seem to have remained true to their new slogan of ‘Risk Everything’ and have taken these carefully calculated risks to come out on top with a very successful campaign and viral video which has been seen by almost 57 million fans worldwide.