Insights

Adidas Vs Nike: Our Marketing Thoughts on the 2014 World Cup

Suarez

Branding Wars and More!

The 2014 World Cup has seen its fair share of fighting and biting. The latest incident has Uruguay's Luis Suarez suspended for the rest of the Cup after having bitten Italy's Giorgio Chiellini. While fans around the world are shocked by both the biting and the severe punishment dished out by FIFA, they aren't the only ones fighting in Brazil. Two of the world's leading sports brands, Adidas and Nike, are also busy fighting for dominance over players and fans. This fight is a long one, and it can be seen on the player's kits, shoes, and even the ball itself. Off the field, the battle continues with commercials, social media, and most serious of all: Facebook "likes." While Adidas has an upper hand as FIFA's official sponsor since 1970, Nike is proving itself to be a truly worthy opponent.
 
Nike's Dream of Youth, and Adidas' Dream of History
Nike seems to obsessively go for the youthful, energized market. This can be seen in their commercials, style, and choice of players. Adidas, on the other hand, wants to be nothing more than the eternal backbone of the Cup. Since 1970, Adidas has sponsored the FIFA World Cup, and they have been the main designer of the official ball ever since. Recently, they have extended their contract until 2030. Compared with Nike's relative infancy with FIFA (they only began sponsoring in 1994,) Adidas has the upper hand in achieving a true legacy with the World Cup.
 
Kits and Shoes, Shoes and Kits

Nike

While Nike is not the official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup like Adidas, it has still managed to unofficially sponsor many teams by providing their kits. Nike at first seemed to be losing more than they could manage as Australia, Croatia, and England all left early in the tournament. However, their kits are still being worn by the increasingly supported team USA. Other teams under Nike's kit sponsorship include: France, Greece, Portugal, South Korea, and most importantly, home-team Brazil.

Adidas isn't losing any sleep over their teams as both Argentina and Germany continue to proudly wear their sponsored kits. However, after the brutal loss of Spain, Adidas may be wishing they had more teams wearing their logo into the final rounds. Aside from kits, Nike is leading in the shoe department which may prove to be the most valuable of them all. This can be most evident in Germany's team: the team is sponsored officially by Adidas, but nine of the team's best players are signed with Nike for shoes. The two most recognizable names in the tournament are also caught between the battle of shoes. Cristiano Ronaldo was signed with Nike for $8.4 million, while Lionel Messi only received $3.3 million from Adidas.
 
Clint Dempsey“Like” This Subheading If You Like U.S. Soccer!
 
When it comes to modern advertising, nothing can surpass social media. This is where companies are truly made or broken, and it takes a combination of professionalism and down-to-earth friendliness to truly pull it off. Not to mention it also requires being cool. Nike is clearly winning in the social media department with nearly 35 million Facebook "likes." Adidas, sadly, has barely half of that. Nike also has more international friends with nearly 15 million Facebook fans from Asia added in the past month alone. While "likes" aren't everything, they are a good indicator of how well a company's doing with the youth of today. Also, Nike has been increasingly mentioned on the official Twitter feed #WC2014. Whether they're mentioned by the fans or sneaky advertisers is anyone's guess. However, one thing is clear: Nike wishes to be young and hip while Adidas is going for the classic, eternal, and old-school cool. Which brings us to our next battle: commercials.
 
 
 
The Hulk and Kanye West

Kanye

Nike and Adidas have rolled out major advertisements this season, but it looks like Nike's in the lead with nearly 83 million YouTube views and the most buzz. Their Winner Stays ad features a group of kids playing for field-rights in a small London suburb. Just as the game gets started, players transform into Ronaldo, Rooney, Neymar Jr, and the Hulk among others. Yeah, that's right, the Hulk is in a Nike commercial, and one can't help but wonder how much they paid Marvel for the shot. Aside from the major players, the video also features moments of humor where David Luiz jokes about his hair, and Ronaldo makes a kid jealous of his hot girlfriend. What's not to like? Nike's video plays like a short film, and it contains world-star athletes having fun with kids, self-deprecating jokes, and a Hulk cameo while set to bubblegum rock n' roll. It's light, knowingly cheesy, but it's all good fun and spirits.
Which brings us to Adidas. Their Dream video is shorter by nearly four minutes, and it feels more like a snowy indie film than an energizing call to action. Sure, it features Messi, Alves, Suarez (and a nice Chianti) but does it make anyone truly excited? The ad is set in a typical World Cup stadium, and Kanye West's latest beat thuds in the background. It has stars, a popular song, and a strong production value, but after Nike's ad, it plays more like a lullaby. And this isn't the only Adidas add that feels more like an Ingmar Bergman film than Nike's "Are You Pumped and Ready to Rock!?" ads.
 
Suarez to Bite Profits Too?
Uruguay's Luis Suarez has been under immense scrutiny after biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini. Unfortunately for the Adidas sponsored star, many of his promotions for the company feature his mouth wide-open and hungry. While this incident will probably not affect Adidas' image or profits, it is likely giving Nike execs a hearty laugh as they secretly pray for their team to keep their mouths shut. On the positive side, any publicity is good publicity, and the almost certain upcoming storm of memes and photoshopped pictures of the Suarez ad will be a free advertisement for Adidas.
With all of this, it looks like Adidas is still the current champion of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In this tournament, Adidas has a revenue of $2.9 billion while Nike lags behind with $1.9 billion. As the official sponsor until 2030, Adidas will remain the classic and eternal champion of international football and U.S. soccer for a while. However, Nike is already ingrained into everyone's mind as an equal, and their videos, clothes, and slogans are impossible to ignore. Really, try to ignore them: Just Do It. As for who will be the official sponsor after 2030, you can visit your local bookie and wait in line.
 
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