Whose House Is This?

The furore over Bavaria Beer’s little marketing stunt at a recent World Cup football game has kicked over a hornet’s nest of bad press for Budweiser and FIFA. The web is saturated with “Buttwiper” and “FIFAscists” mentions. Rightly so too. The incident is probably one of the most ridiculous of its kind (click here to refresh your memory; opens in a new window). And FIFA’s insistence that, by arresting 30 women, they’re only protecting the rights of their headline sponsors/partners seems to be a pretty thin justification. Actually,  I don’t think FIFA’s doing enough to help their partners at all – and I’m not talking about litigation. I’m talking about marketing opportunities, stronger brand association, integrated campaigns…

To be honest with you, I didn’t even know Budweiser was involved in the World Cup. And that got me thinking: just how effective is being a headline sponsor/partner of the greatest sporting show on earth?

Ostensibly (and according to the PR BS line), adidas is (of the three major sports footwear brands) the official partner of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – a title that came with a US$351 million price tag. Not that you’d know. Seriously, reality is perception and perception is everything, and from where I’m standing, Nike has a bigger claim on the World Cup than anyone else. In fact, the good folk over at Nielsen research revealed that one third of the World Cup buzz centres around Nike (that’s almost double the adidas presence). Of course, that’s in no small part the result of the magnificent “WRITE THE FUTURE” spot (featuring Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney – and 9 of the participating nations wearing Nike gear. adidas sponsors 12) which at time of writing had been viewed no less than 16 million times.

Without actually saying it, they’ve ambushed adidas and shut them down. It’s probably the best example of how to lead by perception. Hell, I’m pretty sure you know Puma’s HEART=FOOTBALL campaign better than adidas’…um…what was it again?

adidas did come out swinging though (albeit somewhat punchdrunk) with “THE QUEST”…

Comments from the page for this particular clip – “NIKE WIRTE THE FUTRURE WAS BETTER” (boren611); “this is pretty cool but does not even come close to nike’s write the future” (drewster36) – seem to be the pervading sentiment across the web.

So just what did adidas get for their money? Not enough. Not nearly enough. And the fault lies with adidas and FIFA.

Nike owns the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Game Over.

By the way, this popped up over the weekend on an office building here in Dubai:

Domination. It's all Nike.

It’s a good few stories high and is visible for blocks. In fact, I had to walk a block just to take this shot with my Blackberry. And in case you’re wondering, that’s the world number 7, Cristiano Ronaldo.

‘Nuff said.

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