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Battle of the Sportswear Giants

Every four years, teams from 32 nations around the globe, face off for one of the world’s greatest sporting spectacles, The FIFA World Cup. It is estimated that 3.2 billion people watch at least some of the world cup and an estimated 530 million tune in to watch the final. It is a massive spectacle that is second to none and is also attributed to be the biggest marketing and branding platform in the world. The sheer size of this marketing and branding platform means that many brands are jumping on board and competing in their own championship battle against each other, everyone wants to cash in on the huge spectacle that is the World Cup. This year’s sponsors include a number of brands such as McDonalds, Coca Cola, Sony, Hyundai and Castrol to name a few, however one of the biggest battles that is taking place off the field and has been for many years is the great battle between the world’s largest sportswear giants Nike and Adidas.

Adidas is the official sponsor of the FIFA world cup for 2014 and has been since 1970 and just last year Adidas extended their sponsorship agreement to the year 2030. Nike, who are more of an unofficial sponsor of the World Cup, appear to be raging the battle and taking the ball deep into the opponents half, winning all possession and running rings around their competition. At the moment Nike is the biggest sportswear company with an estimated 25 billon US dollars revenue and a 17% share of the market. Adidas is trailing behind with an estimated 20 billion US dollar revenue and 12% market share. In regards to soccer alone, Nike and Adidas comprise around 70% of the market share, Adidas had around 2.4 billion in soccer revenue in 2013 and Nike were behind with 1.9 billion, this market is definitely worth fighting for, for both parties.

The World Cup has always been a part of the Adidas life blood and its sponsorship of the World Cup will not be given up without a fight. Adidas largely became famous through the world cup event and while they may be losing other sporting territory to their competitors, soccer is the one territory they won’t give up easily. Adidas has been a part of soccer since its inception, while Nike was somewhat born out of the World Cup and only really started to venture into this territory in 1994. It is said that Nike wants soccer, but Adidas needs it.

Nike continues to gain market share and is somewhat out doing Adidas in this year’s World Cup, leading the way with its positive brand affinity through well executed social media activity, that is married beautifully with the most up to date content of the world cup and its 10 team sponsorships, which is one more than what their rivals have. Let’s not forget that it is also all about the shoes and Nike have signed six of the ten most marketable players compared to Adidas with only three. Nike is somewhat undermining the official status of Adidas with their shoe sponsoring, for example, the German team are wearing the Adidas kit, though nine of the country’s top players are wearing Nike boots.

Nike is certainly looking as though it will take out the top spot in the 2014 World Cup, though it is not over until the final whistle is blown. Sponsorship is a very powerful marketing tool, but brands need to sweat their sponsorship properties to ensure that they are covering all possible territory, or a competitor will sneak in and take a share, as Nike has done here.

One thing for sure is that we look forward to the battle between these two sports giants raging on when they meet again in Russia in 2018.