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Battle of the Brands: What does it take to get the most buzz?

by on June 27, 2010

Nike and Adidas are in a full-fledged battle for the “buzz” during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Adidas is an official sponsor.  Nike is not. 

And although Nike didn’t dish out the big bucks to be an “official” sponsor, according to a NelsonWire a “study revealed that, over the last month, there were twice as many references to Nike in online English-language messages related to the World Cup than for its biggest competitor and official World Cup partner, adidas – who had the highest levels of tournament mentions of any of the official brands.”

A quick Google Insights search will reveal that those searching worldwide on Google make the following brand associations during the World Cup: Adidas and Official World Cup Ball, and Nike the commercial.  From a buzz standpoint, Nike’s commercial alone is tramping Adidas!  Why?

Not only is the three-minute Nike commercial a hit on YouTube, it is also broadcasted blatantly on the homepage of (there is no way you can miss it).  Also, through the same branded campaign and social media, Nike has allowed fans to share their voice too… on a Skyscraper in Johannesburg—a true social media success story, taking social media capabilities to a whole other level.

What does this mean for other brands?

From what I can tell, to be successful at social media and marketing during such a large event with so many sponsorships and big spending for promotions, a brand needs to get in the game fast and with a force, creating a hype that is brand-specific rather than solely event-specific. Months before the World Cup action, Nike was out in the limelight, spending buckets of cash to promote its brand, creating a lasting, attention-grabbing campaign.  Nikes Write the Future campaign will outlast the tenure of the World Cup, and will continue to promote the brand long after the tournament. Yes, Adidas has increased sales revenue during the games, but what does the partnership offer following the tournament?  The main takeaways seem limited and not as strong as the message communicate by Nike.  

Make campaigns multifaceted and platform-dimensional—think outside the box

Not only is Nike’s social media strategy for the World Cup branded and unique, it is multifaceted and utilizes many different platforms for communications.  Nike obviously thought outside of the box, and had the mentality “go big or go home”.  With Adidas’s Official Partnership, Nike realized the need to blow away the competition and any publicity garnered by the partnership.  Social media during the World Cup, or any other instance, is more than establishing YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts and responding to fans comments.  To be successful, campaign messages need to be integrated across platforms, with each offering different features and promotions to garner continued interaction and attention. It also doesn’t take costly partnerships to be successful.  Be unique, position your brand against the competition through innovation.  Social media by definition is no longer the wow that will make the difference. What will be your wow factor?

Make it entertaining

Nike’s videos on YouTube are funny and entertaining, and they are also in many different languages with content targeted to the various culture-based demographics.  There are over two-hundred videos on Nike’s Write the Future YouTube Channel and each of the videos is equally as captivating.  Nike turned a product and brand into entertainment, rather than sticking to traditional marketing tactics.

Learn from others

Following the FIFA World Cup, social media and marketing will never be the same in South Africa.  Residents of South Africa have personally witnessed and experienced the power and possibilities of social media in their home country.  Other brands, both domestic and abroad, will build on the trends established during the games as new tactics for communications within South Africa.  Further case studies will identify the best, most profitable areas and means of social media and marketing within the country.  Furthermore, those working within the marketplace will capitalize on the trials, errors and successes during the World Cup, and create a plethora of new opportunities for the country.


From → South Africa

  1. I like your analysis. I like your point about sponsorship alone won’t cut it. Executing a good marketing campaign like Nike did is more important.

  2. I also blogged about an athletic brand’s sponsorship during the World Cup. You wrote that Nike had a “go big or go home” mentality. I saw that with my analysis of PUMA as well. They, too, had large (and small) creative ideas. I did find, however, that PUMA missed some very easy branding and advertising opportunities using social media in South Africa.

  3. Great choice for a post and something that has certainly been front and center and that I noticed myself in terms of the war between these two soccer mega-brands. You raise some excellent questions in this post about what really makes the most difference when it comes to promoting at an event like this and also how much of a difference sponsorship actually makes (a point that is echoed by the quote they use from Pete Blackshaw at Neilsen in the video you embedded). The thing you focus on is a unique social media strategy from Nike, but it seems as though Nike and Adidas are fairly even in terms of how often and deeply they are trying to use social media. If you feel there is a strong difference, we need more details on what that is. Instead, where part of your post seems to lead is that Nike is standing out because they have better creative execution … which is also a valid conclusion to make, but if that is what you found then we need to see this conclusion come through in your post. This was a great post, and adding that stronger conclusion would make it a complete effort. (4)

  4. Tamara Webb permalink

    Sino-tastic Spoof: Nike’s “Write the Future”

    A Hong Kong remix of Nike’s World Cup TV spot. An excellent replacement after the removal of a similar tongue-in-cheek remix that was removed from YouTube for copyright reasons. Zeitgeist have more here.

  5. Your blog is pretty cool to me and your topics are very relevant. I was browsing around and came across something you might find interesting. I was guilty of 3 of them with my sites. “99% of site managers are doing these 5 errors”. You will be suprised how simple they are to fix.

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