Marketing The World Cup
Water poured heavily from the sky in Moscow as the closing ceremony of the highest scoring World Cup match since 1966 began. Over 81,000 fans gathered at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 as France secured their second World Cup title with a 4-2 win over Croatia. Lightning and thunder hovered throughout the game, but stayed just far enough away and held off just long enough so that no delay occurred.
Minutes after the match, the players from each team lined up, now drenched but grateful, to receive congratulations from FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Russia President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. As the rain flooded through the stadium, creating a much more dramatic effect to the final moments of the ceremony, the marketing and advertising world couldn’t help but to try and determine who else won the World Cup this year.
What Brands Were Represented?
According to The Drum, Nike took the cake. While rival sportswear brand, Adidas, was the official sponsor of the 2018 World Cup, 94 goals were scored by players wearing Nike boots, including notable players such as England’s Harry Kane, France’s Kylian Mbappe, and Craotia’s Luca Modric.
Of the 32 teams in this year’s World Cup, 10 represented Nike, including both Croatia and France. An estimated 65% of this year’s World Cup players wore Nike cleats. This was the first time in twenty years that an all-Nike final match was played, so while Adidas was official sponsor, Nike still took home the trophy.
Aside from on-field presence, the most important driver of sales in this year’s World Cup is coming from social media. The impact that these phenomenal players have on their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram followers is remarkable. The World Cup may be over, but millions and millions of users will continue to follow their idols. This influence is more powerful than any form of traditional television advertising, no matter how great the commercial or large the budget is.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the second-most followed user (135 million followers as of 11:00 am 7/16/18) on Instagram next to Selena Gomez and guess what brand he represents? Take a wild guess. Nike.
Budweiser, an official sponsor of the World Cup, also made the most of the World Cup, generating 55,000 total mentions on Twitter as a result of their #ManoftheMatch campaign content. This campaign put a focus on individual players rather than entire teams, tapping into key moments in each match. Who was the man of the match that everyone was talking about? Users took it to Twitter to tell all, using hashtag #ManoftheMatch.
Other popular World Cup hashtags include:
Not only did Budwesier win on Twitter, but they caused quite a stir in the Snapchat community, releasing an interactive beer cup filter. Through the lens you could hear the celebrations of fans during tournament games in real time. What!? Yes, this is the first-ever sponsored, sound activated lens.
The reason social media campaigns like this are so effective is because they reach an astounding amount of users and generate global engagement incomparable to television and radio ads. Other large brands that ran successful social media campaigns include Ikea, Amazon, Adidas, and of course, Nike.
According to Zenith, brands were estimated to spend up to $200 million for sponsorship packages alone. Some of these familiar brands and global partners you may remember lining the stadiums include:
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be jointly hosted by 16 cities in three North American countries. There will be 60 matches, including the quarterfinals, semi-finals, and the final in the United States, while Mexico and Canada will host another 10 matches. This will mark the first-ever tournament hosted by three separate nations.
A North American World Cup will open the doors to an unfathomable amount of opportunity for large brands and the rival between Adidas and Nike will live on. It is not known how much technology and social media will change in the next eight years, but the users will continue to gain more and more control. Social Media presence is now more important than ever and has become more effective in brand awareness than both TV and radio combined.