Since the 2014 FIFA World Cup started on June 12, people from around the world have been caught-up in ‘football’ fever.
And not just the die-hard fans. Even those of us who have never watched a game from start-to-end have at some point over the past month discovered that we know more about the World Cup tournament and its participating teams (or should I say, Gods!) than we ever would have dreamed.
Did we expect it to take a hold like it has? While we may not have consciously thought about it, sure we did. Football (or Soccer to us Aussies) is played by over 265million people and 5million referees across 200 countries, making it the most popular sport in the world. As FIFA rightly points out, that is a staggering 4.1% of the global population!
When we list the facts in black and white we can appreciate just how colossal the sport and its following is, as well as gauge the phenomenal reach that the World Cup has. FIFA estimates that during the 2010 World Cup 909.6million television viewers saw at least one minute of the final between Spain and the Netherlands. 909.6million! One can only assume that with the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Germany and the Netherlands still in the running that the 2014 World Cup final will attract a similar number of viewers.
With these extraordinary statistics it is no wonder companies are spending BIG bucks to see their brand associated with the event. An article published on 28 June in the UK Telegraph named the 2014 World Cup as the most lucrative event ever for sportswear retailers. And no prizes for guessing the top two contenders.
Nike and Adidas have continued their rivalry for the leading position throughout the World Cup. Official sponsor of the event, Adidas, has reportedly spent over £50million (AUD $91.7million) in advertising the tournament alone (and that doesn’t include sponsorship costs estimated at AUD $70million per annum).
In addition to merchandise and billboards, the official sponsor has created a number of commercials that are gaining exposure from mass audiences worldwide, and not just on TV. Their commercials are also racking-up views in the millions on YouTube. The Dream: All in or Nothing featuring (Adidas sponsored) players Messi, Alves, Suarez and Ozil has 37,396,028 views, I Am Brazuca, an ad that showcases the Adidas match ball of the Cup has 4,622,295, and House Match featuring Beckham, Zidane, Bale and Lucas Moura in a friendly but destructive game of ball inside a house has clocked up 17,831,303.
So where does this leave Nike? Obviously the company has a major hurdle to jump when advertising and positioning their brand in relation to soccer at this time of the year – they can’t promote the World Cup! After all, it’s sponsored by their biggest competitor. The answer? A 5min 28sec animated advertisement in which Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Rooney, Zlatan, Iniesta and others endure a battle to save soccer in a dystopian future, without mentioning the 2014 FIFA World Cup once! The creative ad, Nike Football: The Last Game has made its mark receiving a wide range of press and racking up over 60,425,000 YouTube views in the month of June. That’s more than the aforementioned Adidas ads combined!
Adidas and Nike aren’t the only companies leveraging off the sizeable audiences and exposure that the World Cup delivers. FIFA partners who pay anywhere from USD $10M- $50M per annum for sponsorship rights include Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Hyundai, Sony, Visa, Castrol, Continental, Johnson & Johnson, McDonalds, Moy Park, Oi, and Yingli Solar. And there are companies that have no sponsorship tie to the event also producing advertisements centred on the Cup. Beats by Dre released a 5 minute commercial The Game Before the Game featuring Neymar Jr., Bacary Sagna, Jozy Altidore and cameos from Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Lebron James which has demanded attention for competing against paying sponsor Sony and has clocked over 21,365,042 YouTube views.
So, the big question, is it worth the sponsorship and advertising dollars? Absolutely! While Adidas has forked out hundreds of millions on sponsorship and advertising the company CEO Herbert Hainer has promised $2.7billion in soccer revenue in 2014. This is up from the record breaking $1.8billion they generated in soccer-based sales in 2010. This year’s forecast figures include the sale of 14 million Brazuca balls alone, each selling for around AUD $180 a pop. A Forbes article published on 1 July states that Nike is also expecting to see an increase in sales that reflect a 36% increase in ‘demand creation expenses’ related to the World Cup. It goes without saying that these figures don’t factor in any revenue from brand loyalty purchases over time.
With all of the hype surrounding the World Cup and the upcoming final we can expect to see some clever advertising that positions brands as winners shortly after the last whistle blows. Which company will end up on top? Stay tuned.