The World Cup Brand Battle

13 06 2010

The World Cup started this past Friday, and even if you’re not a die hard soccer fan, it’s hard not to get swept up in the excitement. Brackets have been filled out, even if by only gauging your affinity for team mascots, the South African vuvuzela trumpets are humming, and fans across the world are watching games in unison. I have to admit, it’s pretty powerful to think that a single sport can unite the world with such overwhelming fanaticism – bandwagon or not, I’ve jumped.

And like any great business, there are a few that have leaped at the chance to build brand awareness in front of the astronomical volume of people watching each game. Adidas is one of the official sponsors of the World Cup, but you may have guessed that Nike was instead by its sheer amount of brand development – it’s not. The Nielson Company just released a study which revealed that Nike was more frequently linked to the World Cup than any of the tournament’s official partners and sponsors via online blogs, message boards and social networking sites. The study also stated that there were twice as many references to Nike in online English-language messages related to the World Cup than to Adidas.

Fast Company also had a great article on the study and about Nike’s World Cup campaign, and most notably its “Write the Future” ad. Interestingly enough, Adidas, which is outfitting 12 of the teams, compared to Nike’s 9, can only muster 14.4% of the “official and competitor buzz” as Nielsen has it, compared to Nike’s 30.2%. To see what the buzz is all about, see Neilson’s piece on the topics driving the World Cup conversation.

So what does this mean for small business? Well, for starters, it’s obvious that sponsorship is only one avenue of getting your brand in front of potential consumers. More than ever now, there are opportunities to create a conversation and build brand awareness online – and through mediums that are much less expensive than sponsorship. Nielsen’s executive vice president of digital strategy Pete Balackshaw even said that the study showed that compelling, savvy marketing can establish a similar consumer connection without having to write that expensive sponsorship check. Nike spent an estimated $10 million to make its World Cup ad, but you don’t have to!

One of the biggest challenges to starting a social media campaign is getting started – and then maintaining your presence. I’ve listed a few articles below for a little inspiration and clarity. Write your future and build your brand creatively!

Video courtesy of Nike Football/YouTube.

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