The World Cup of Marketing Part 1: Nike Vs. Adidas

Modern Marketing


After spending yesterday morning glued to the USA vs. Germany game, Marketo has officially contracted World Cup Fever. But we aren’t just in it for the team rivalry – we’ve also been fascinated by the ads. The FIFA World Cup is more than a sporting event; it’s a chance for brands to go head to head on our TVs, our mobile devices, and all over social media.

In fact, brands are projected to spend upwards of $75 million on official sponsorships, advertising, and social media campaigns around the World Cup. But the ultimate question remains – will all of the hype translate into more consumers? Will more shoes/beverages/electronics be sold?

Keep in mind that many of the World Cup games (there are 64!) have garnered 20+ million viewers, giving brands a unique opportunity to reach an enormous audience. The event will also generate $1.7 billion in television rights revenue and $1.35 billion from marketing rights.

Here at Marketo, we’re keeping a close eye on some of the brands duking it out for World Cup marketing supremacy. First up: Nike vs. Adidas. The iconic sports apparel brands have put their best foot forward (pun intended) to engage consumers with everything from videos to branded Twitter handles.  

A Quick Look at the Facts:

Adidas is one of six official World Cup partners, Nike is not. Adidas actually just sealed a deal with FIFA to extend its partnership for another 60 years, making the bold claim that its brand will continue to thrive and be relevant for generations in the future.

And while an official sponsorship is likely the most expensive option, it isn’t the only way to create buzz. Here are four additional marketing tactics employed by both brands:

Player Sponsorship

Nike: sponsors six of the 10 most “marketable” players, including Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazil’s Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, and England’s Wayne Rooney.

Adidas: sponsors three of the 10: Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Brazil’s Dani Alves, and Germany’s Mesut Ozil.

Apparel and Gear

Nike: Ten of the 32 World Cup teams wear Nike gear, including the USA and host country Brazil.

Adidas: Nine teams don the Adidas logo, including Germany, Argentina, Colombia and Spain.

Social Media

Nike: More than 250 individuals across the U.S., China, Brazil, and other major markets contribute to Nike’s social media content engine, working to develop content that will resonate with its global audience.

Adidas: Adidas-sponsored NBA players arrived at the World Cup to generate buzz among their followers and engage U.S. sports fans. The brand also created its own ambassador, named the
“brazuca ball,” and gave it life through a Twitter account – @brazuca has been posting its experiences to its 2.2 million followers since December. Finally, Adidas has a command center in Brazil where it hosts interviews, behind-the-scenes coverage and other exclusive content for its website.


Nike: Nike’s mini-movie, “The Last Game” has 55 million hits, and counting. “Winner Stays” has more than 82 million online views.

Adidas: The Dream,” featuring an original tune by Kanye West, has less than half that, with 36 million views. Its “House Match” spot is hovering around 17 million.

So Who’s “Winning”?

We believe that for brands to be effective they must place investments across multiple channels and create engaging content. Both Adidas and Nike are doing exactly this – succeeding in creating a true feeling of participation in the games.

Adidas currently leads Nike in terms of share of voice on Twitter – 53% to 47%. Being an “official sponsor” may have opened doors for Adidas, allowing them to host more events and build a stronger on-site presence…but was the six-point margin in share of voice worth the money?

Tell us what you think in the comments, and check back in. We’ll be keeping up with the other major brands battling for World Cup fan domination.