Whilst the last competitors are still battling it out on the field for the World Cup, their national jerseys are part of a separate but equally intense competition: one involving the sponsors, Nike and Adidas. It’s a rivalry that dates back almost as far as the tournament itself.
Adidas sponsors Germany, still the number-one ranked team for the Copa Mundial. Nike sponsors Brazil, the proud host country and a tournament favorite. Strictly from an apparel standpoint, representation of the two brands is pretty much neck-and-neck.
Nike outfits three of the top 10 teams in the World Cup and Adidas outfits four. Of the 32 countries represented overall, 10 wear Nike jerseys (including the United States) and eight pulled on Adidas-branded versions.
However, from a content standpoint, Nike is the clear golden-boot winner. The company’s recent spot (published on April 25) boasts more than 84 million views on YouTube. Adidas, by comparison, launched its official “Brazuca” game-ball campaign in December 2013, which topped out at a deflating 3 million views. Which begs the question: Does it pay to be an official sponsor?
Underwriting a worldwide sporting event was once synonymous with guaranteed visibility, brand recognition, and gaining a return on a measured investment. But if a brand has already established all of that (and more), what’s to gain?
More people are tuning in to watch the World Cup than any other event in recorded history. Nike will be there. Adidas, too.
One thing is for certain: Only one team can win—and only one brand can dress that champion.