While we wait impatiently for Holland versus Brazil, let me bring you a few of the latest World Cup marketing scores.
Castrol 0, Visa 1.
If a sponsor’s checkbook opens on Sepp Blatter’s desk and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Castrol is not the only marketer to pony up tens of millions for official Fifa sponsorship rights, only to fail to leverage its outlay, by, you know, letting the rest of us know about it. (Did you visit Continental Tires’s site? Are you more likely to fly with Emirates than you were before the tournament? What about the chances that you buy a solar panel from Yingli Solar?)
Visa, one of many brand giants that sometimes seems to be applying the somewhat questionable “well, it’s a global event and we’re a global brand” logic to its sponsorship, at least found a few ways to activate its purchase by offering cardholders access to tickets in pre-sale events and making this thoroughly likable ad.
South Africa 4, English-language media 0.
There were plenty of journalists and bloggers who seemed to be channeling their inner colonialist before the tournament, writing half-baked pieces about South Africa being unready to handle the world’s largest sporting event and speculating that tourists/players/visiting dignitaries would have to bolt themselves in their hotel rooms to escape the marauding natives who would surely rob them of their hard-earned (cough) dollars.
As it turned out, of course, the scariest thing about the South Africans turned out to be their penchant for an absurdly grating and monotonous plastic trumpet. Meanwhile the host nation has put on a World Cup in an array of impressive stadia that has run as smoothly as any World Cup before it and has shown off many of the country’s incredible assets. Some in the media have still tried to find reasons we should be disappointed, such as the fact that Africa (the continent) produced only one team that got out of the group stage, whereas the great U.S. and England overcame Slovenia and Algeria and made it all the way to the round of 16 before being knocked out. Should we maybe see how the exciting Ghana team fares against Uruguay before we decry the state of African football?
Nike 4, Adidas 2.
Nike has yet again proved what every savvy marketer knows: You don’t need to buy the official rights to end up owning the event. The world’s biggest sports brand yet again outmaneuvered its competitors, with Nielsen finding that it had earned more than twice the share of buzz of official sponsor Adidas. The fact that this has now happened in consecutive World Cups should act as a reminder to marketers that continuous brand investment beats sporadic campaigning. Adidas did counter Nike’s amazing (and viral record-setting) Write the Future commercial with a nice Star-Wars themed commercial.
Adidas loses this game, however, for playing with its Jabulani ball, which has been criticized by a host of players and coaches for its bizarre flight and the fact that even the most talented players seem at times to have struggled with it. Herbert Hainer, Adidas boss, competing with Steve ‘don’t hold it that way’ Jobs for the oddest statement on his product, said the issue is that the ball is rounder than any other they’ve made, but I’d imagine that most footie-fans are wondering whether we really needed to change something that clearly wasn’t broken. This is the World Cup, let’s let the best the players do the fancy stuff, not the ball. Of course Adidas estimates it’ll sell 13 million of these things, so Herbert probably doesn’t really care what the players think, and I’m sure Adidas is already hatching an even rounder sphere for 2014.
Check back tomorrow for more scores.