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SBD Global/July 15, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Adidas Declares World Cup Victory Over Nike After Germany Wins Fourth Championship

Germany's adidas "declared a World Cup victory over rival sporting-goods providers on Monday," the day after the country's football team clinched its fourth world championship in Brazil, according to Monica Houston-Waesch of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The company, which outfitted the German national team as well as beaten finalists Argentina, "is counting on the tournament to boost" sales and is targeting football-related revenue of €2B ($2.7B). Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer said, "Our soccer revenue is at a record level, and we were the most mentioned brand in social media. With that, we clearly dominated the tournament on the field and off." Investors "appeared to agree," with adidas shares rising 2.5% on Monday. Adidas reckons its boost from the World Cup was amplified this year by the might of social media, giving the company what it described as "unparalleled visibility." The company claimed to have the No. 1 brand on social media, "with its Twitter hashtag #allin mentioned 917,000 times on the social-media site, and the brand commanding 55% of social media brand mentions during the World Cup, citing data from the media analytics company Sysomos." However, some marketing experts caution that now that the final whistle has blown on football, "the downside of an association with FIFA could return," testing adidas's ability to keep the polish on its image. PR Marketing's Peter Rohlmann said, "Right now it's easy for sponsors to downplay problems in Brazil or labor conditions in Qatar, but this is coming like a wave, and they don't realize it." Berlin-based consulting group Prophet partner Felix Stoeckle said that viewers focus on football during a game "but larger concerns return when the end whistle blows." Stoeckle: "I think sponsors need to be careful, these things will have an influence on brand perception over time, and there isn't a company out there which has gotten it completely right." Controversy is not "lost on normal spectators." Retired U.S. attorney Hal Dygert said that "he is surprised" protests in Brazil did not get more airtime. Dygert said, "If I were in Brazil, I'd be very annoyed at the amount of money spent on stadiums instead of education or other necessities, and I would hold that against the sponsors" (WSJ, 7/14). INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL's David Owen wrote "in the Battle of the Brands Nike came out on top in terms of World Cup goals scored in 2014." After four low-scoring quarterfinals, Nike teams "held a decisive edge," leading their adidas counterparts by 58 to 50. While a Nike team was not represented in the final, Nike "did have a walk on part." Germany's Miroslav Klose, "who broke the record as the World Cup's highest ever goal scorer did so wearing Nike boots." And the U.S. brand has in the past had an "affinity" with winning goalscorer Mario Götze, "who has been controversially pictured in the past wearing Nike gear on Bayern (an adidas team) and German national team duty" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 7/14).

ADIDAS KEEPS SUÁREZ: The GLOBAL TIMES reported adidas said Sunday that "it would start using Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez again despite his four-month ban for biting a World Cup rival." Adidas had in late June announced that "it would stop using Suarez in its advertments following FIFA's leveling of a four-month ban" from football activities against Suarez for biting Italian Giorgio Chiellini (GLOBAL TIMES, 7/13).
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