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The 2014 FIFA World Cup has seen a dramatic opening week, with the event beginning in earnest on June 12th. Away from the sporting arena, a marketing war erupted immediately between several famous brands. Instead of the expected order of things set about by FIFA, it’s been a bit of a free for all. Unexpected brands have been edging out others, and a great deal of upstaging has been taking place. Adding to this, governing body FIFA has had to contend with a hacking campaign and social unrest.

There’s no doubt the world is currently witnessing an unprecedented marketing campaign from the top international brands. It will almost certainly be the biggest corporate battle of the year and, with the added drama of localised protests rumbling in the background, the outcome remains uncertain. As fans enjoy the football matches, the action has proved to be as enthralling off the pitch as on it — this is what has unfolded to date.

FIFA’s Global Engagement

FIFA 2014 logo

Photo credit: FIFA

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFAexpects big results from the 2014 World Cup. Based on the results from the South African World Cup, held in 2010, it’s fairly obvious figures will be in the hundreds of millions. Four years ago, FIFA reported some startling statistics:

  • Broadcast hours of 71,867
  • Territories reached: 214
  • In-home audience reach (20+consecutive minutes): 2.2 billion
  • Average global in-home audience per live match: 188.4 million
  • Highest global in-home average audience: 530.9 million.

Finally, the 2010 South African World Cup final brought in an in-home audience (of 1+ minute) reach of 909.6 million. As far as sports go, only the Olympic Games and Formula One can boast such consistently high figures. Considering the amount of advertising involved with this event, it’s highly likely 2014’s World Cup will usurp these records, and social media has played a part in this.

On a social media front, the organisation has been posting remarkable statistics. From their Live Activity Map, it’s been established there are, on average, 588 Tweets a minute, 33,683 mentions an hour, and there have been over 17 million total mentions (which appears to be for today alone).

Smaller Brands Benefit

Cerveza Cristal logo

Many businesses have realised they can cash in on the World Cup, meaning many small scale marketing campaigns have been launched across the world. Themed blog posts, support for respective teams via social media, and numerous other tactics have been used by small and medium-sized businesses to tie in with the public’s mood.

Although there are official sponsors set by FIFA, the event effectively allows any business (no matter how powerful) to get involved. As a result, it’s all become quite disorganised (not helped by players’ disregard for FIFA’s rule book), with many smaller brands capitalising on the unexpected success of the World Cup.

As Unruly Media displayed two weeks before the tournament began, this development had already been active for months. They highlighted this with a chart titled “Which brands are scoring big in Brazil?” #Braziliant marks the ongoing study, and the analytics service has tracked 430 billion video view and 24 million daily social shares. According to Unruly Media, Nike, Samsung, Castrol, Coca-Cola, and Emirates are the big winners. However, Cerveza Cristal were the big gainers. The Chilean beer company managed to divert attention away from official event sponsors Budweiser with their #ChileMeteMiedo commercial.

Nike and Adidas at War


The multinational corporations are locked in an endless battle for marketing supremacy, although Nike’s main problem has been FIFA’s use of Adidas as an official sponsor. They’ve maintained this partnership since 1970 and have extended the contract to 2030. The company’s logo is even stamped on the footballs used.

Nike has long had to struggle in the background. Undeterred, this year they are sponsoring 10 World Cup teams’ shirts. These include England, the USA, and France. Adidas sponsors 10 teams, including Germany, Japan, and 2010 World Cup winners Spain (who just crashed out of the tournament).

This marketing war has taken to football boots, with Nike sponsoring six teams to Adidas’ three. Things don’t end here, as reported by Stock Market Today, as Nike sponsor Cristiano Ronaldo with $8.4 million, whilst Adidas back Lionel Messi for $3.3 million. On top of this, the duo have produced numerous adverts for the World Cup in attempt to maximise public interest in their respective brand.

This ceaseless rivalry has taken to social media, with both brands pushing to grow their followers through their marketing efforts. What’s clear is Nike are making some ground on Adidas, but the latter’s place as official FIFA sponsors should secure their dominance for the next 16 years.

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About Alex Morris

Alex Morris is a Copywriter and Social Media Manager for the award winning Soap Media. He has also worked as an SEO Executive and Digital Marketer for a leading small business in the UK, and has been a business writer and blogger since completing a Masters Journalism degree in 2007. He spends his spare time developing a satirical blog whilst working on a debut novel.

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