7/30/2019 Adidas Lifts 2010 Football World Cup
After 64 matches, 145 goals and enough vuvuzela blowing to fill a billion Jabulani balls, the FIFA World Cup 2010
is officially over and Spain have been crowned champions. But who won the battle of the sports apparel brands?
Euromonitor International reports on a game of two halves.
Nike 2 - 0 Adidas
Before a ball had even been kicked at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, bosses at Nike and Adidas got into a spat
over which was the biggest global brand in football. Theirs is a fierce corporate rivalry, as big as Coke versus Pepsi,
and it brought marketing colour and advertising dynamism to the greatest football show on earth.
Nike's wry and innovative Write the future campaign, which launched on-line in May, was followed by Adidas'
boisterous satire of the legendary bar scene in the first Star Wars movie, featuring the likes of Snoop Dog, David
Beckham and the Gallagher brothers. These were the opening big-budget marketing gambits of the tournament, and
it is widely held that Nike came out on top, generating substantially more tweeting and social media gossip than its
At the start of the World Cup Adidas also came under fire about the quality of the match ball, which was designed
especially for the tournament. Some players thought it performed more like a high-pressure beach ball than a
football. World Cup tournaments are notorious for criticisms of the ball, but Adidas, a self-styled football gear
expert, would have been banking on a more positive reception. It turned out to be an early own goal for the German
Nike 2 - 2 Adidas
Adidas, as an official sponsor, went into the tournament a clear favourite, its logo adorning the kits of 12 teams
against Nike's nine (its largest World Cup tally to date and summing 10 if you include England's Umbro kit). Puma,
the tournament's dark horse, had seven representatives. Between 10 June and 11 July Adidas teams appeared in 38
matches, compared with 31 for Nike and 26 for Puma, according to calculations made by Euromonitor International.
Adidas also came out on top in terms of matches won, with a total of 24 versus Nike's 17 and Puma's ratherdisappointing seven.
There is, of course, immeasurable value in sponsoring the team that ultimately lifts the cup. And given the pre-
tournament brand rivalry, it was fitting that the 2010 final should be played out between Spain and the Netherlands,
representing Adidas and Nike respectively. With Italy, the 2006 champions and Puma's flagship team, making an
early exit, a Nike versus Adidas final always looked on the cards. Ghana and Uruguay both punched above theirweight for Puma and almost caused a Nike upset. But it was not to be, and with the scores all level on marketing
terms, the stage was set for the world's two biggest sports apparel companies to battle it out in Johannesburg's Soccer
City. Game on.
Table 1 World Cup 2010: Sports Apparel Brands - Tournament Fact Check
Brand Number of teams Number of World Matches wonsponsored Cup matches
Adidas 12 38 24Nike 9 31 17Puma 7 26 7Brooks 1 4 2Umbro* 1 4 1Legea 1 3 0Joma 1 3 0
Euromonitor International* owned by Nike
Nike 3 - 3 Adidas
Nike knows all about the upside of winning the World Cup. When Brazil won the tournament in 2002, the iconic
yellow shirts bore the equally iconic Nike tick. And at that time, Nike's football participation was comparatively lowimpact. Winning the World Cup provided Nike with the platform to build a more high-profile football penetration.
7/30/2019 Adidas Lifts 2010 Football World Cup
Indeed, since that time the company has invested annually around 13% of net revenue in marketing, with a strong
focus on celebrity endorsements, of which footballers have grown in profile. Crucially, Nike identifies football as a
key driver of its strategic expansion going forward.
There is, however, significant risk in expensive endorsements. Most strikingly, Nike felt the downside of the Tiger
Woods fiasco towards the end of 2009. And in the 2010 World Cup, the company pinned much of its pre-tournament
marketing drive on the performance of key players such as Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Wayne Rooney
(England). Both players figured prominently in the Write the future advertisement, but both failed to live up to
their hype. This is identified as a key reason why Nike lost some of the impetus to Adidas as the tournament wore
Adidas last won the World Cup in 1998 when hosts France beat Brazil 3-0 in the final. As an official 2010 World
Cup sponsor, Adidas outspent Nike and would no doubt have expected a commensurately bigger tournament upside.
Like Nike, the company channels around 13% of revenue annually into sports marketing, and football is by far the
biggest recipient. Certainly the company's three stripes were more ubiquitous than Nike's tick over the month-long
tournament, not only on shirts but also around the stadia. That said, Nike football boots, a profitable business
category in its own right, were the more visible, ambushing some of Adidas' logo profile.
Expectation of winning the World Cup must have been high at the German headquarters of Adidas, especially when
the Brazilians were knocked out in the quarter finals. The heritage of Adidas is all about football, and even though
Nike has gained substantial ground in real value terms Adidas continues to see itself as the dominant name in the
game. 2009 was a tough year for Adidas, with group revenue down 4% due to the global financial crisis as well as
unfavourable currency fluctuations against the euro. And five years ago, the company paid a whopping EUR3.1billion for Reebok, which has struggled to reposition. On the basis of its football tradition, strategic game plan and
fundamental desire, purists would probably say that Adidas deserved to win the 2010 World Cup.
Nike 3 - 4 Adidas
When Andres Iniesta, arguably the tournament's best player, scored for Spain (Adidas) in the 116th minute of the
final, there was no way back for Nike. The opportunity to see its logo blazoned in World Cup glory had slipped
away. And it is the three stripes of Adidas that lifted the biggest prize in football, watched by a worldwide television
audience estimated at over one billion. It was far from a spectacular match, but international football is about
winning and sales of replica Spain shirts are projected to soar over the second half of the year. The result will alsodrive sales of Adidas' F50i football boot, which has been fighting an uphill battle against Nike's latest version of the
Mecurial Superfly 11.
The result will stick in the throat of Nike because it outperformed Adidas for key periods of the tournament. But, the
company can take some good from the 2010 World Cup. It did, after all, enjoy some memorable victories. Today is,
however, about writing its own football future, and plans will already be underway for Brazil 2014.
It was the late Bill Shankly, a legend of football management in England, who famously said, Football is not a
matter of life and death. It's more important than that. Who in the aggressive world of sports apparel marketing
would disagree? Accordingly, every four years, fans and brand sponsors alike will always come back for more,
treading the thin line that separates joy from pain from downright misery. Such is our beautiful game.
For more insight, please contact Rob Walker, Senior FMCG Analyst at: firstname.lastname@example.org