Teams from all over the world are suiting up in their country’s colors and battling it out on the grassy field in this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. While the athletes were running drills and lacing up their cleats, brands have been preparing for the epic battle for consumer attention that comes every four years, as well. As with the teams, some brands simply out-perform the others.
Here are four brands winning the World Cup.
Apple-owned Beats Electronics has been banned from the World Cup due to Sony's official sponsorship of the games. As a result, all athletes are prohibited from wearing the headphones on the field or at any public event. That didn’t stop Beats from distributing free headphones to some of the footballers for their personal use. Stars like Neymar and Luis Suarez have been spotted wearing them while getting off of buses and at practices.
Beats has turned the ban into an advantage. Fans know that Sony is a sponsor and has likely distributed its own products to all participants, so seeing the athletes wearing Beats headphones gives Beats a certain credibility edge.
Beats also released a five-minute commercial with the tag line “The Game Before The Game,” which seems to hint at athletes wearing Beats by Dre before heading out on the field, where the headphones are banned.
No World Cup marketing list would be complete without Adidas. Another of the six World Cup partners, Adidas last year inked a deal to remain in that position through 2030. By then, its cumulative sponsorship will total 60 years.
This year, the athletic apparel giant is spending more on World Cup marketing than any year since it started in 1970. A big part of the prep for the games has been designing and promoting the official game ball, named “brazuca” after the informal local term for “Brazilian.”
Brazuca is a colorful ball that was four years in the making, and Adidas is allowing enthusiasts to experience the game through its “eyes,” so to speak, via social media channels. In fact, the most famous soccer ball in the world just hit one million followers on Twitter last weekend.
Though Nike isn’t an official sponsor of the World Cup like rival Adidas, but a survey from Global World Index shows that nearly a third of U.S. consumers believe that it is. This is understandable, given the fact that the company does outfit some of the sport's biggest-name players. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Landon Donovan (who, it should be noted, isn't playing in this year's games) wear Nike shoes on the field.
In addition to backing football superstars, Nike has put out some seriously impressive commercials. This long-form animated spot that feels almost like a film is arguably chief among them.
Because the World Cup only comes every four years, social media and other avenues of promotion have drastically changed since the last event. The world is now more connected than ever and many brands are taking advantage of that to generate buzz around the football spectacular.
Hyundai is leading the pack in social engagement by encouraging fans and followers to submit photos, videos, and other content to its worldwide “Fan Park.” As an official sponsor, the automaker can use the FIFA World Cup's name in all of its social endeavors, making it easier to find online. At the Fan Park, users can create a pin with whatever content they choose and pick a country to support. Their “pin” then shows up on a digital map of the world.
In addition to the map's social component, Hyundai has developed interactive tools like the “Shoot and Save” game and the “Octopus Prediction,” which allows users to choose their predictions for each round.