“They think it’s all over” and it is now. After four years of waiting, 32 days of competition and a German triumph, the World Cup is over – let the countdown to Russia begin. The 32 teams and 736 players have left Copacabana behind and for all but the jubilant winners, attentions quickly return to club football.
Brazil’s tournament has been heralded as the most social competition ever, a haven for brands and sports agencies looking to score big with their marketing. It’s been a story of sponsors versus non-sponsors; the value of official partnerships versus all-out ambush marketing. No matter who the players, the goal is always the same – cut through, engagement, sales. Beats by Dre, Sony, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Subway, Mcdonald’s; big names with big interests in Brazil, although not all are official. Of all those rivalries, one has been discussed more than any other – Adidas versus Nike. Germany may have lifted the 18-carrot trophy but there was more than one winner in the Maracana.
Aside from the un-official initiative of Nike’s ‘Risk Everything’ doing battle with Adidas’ ‘All In or Nothing’ off the pitch, war sports public relations sense has been raging on it. The two brands have corned 90% of the global boot market and it showed with ticked and striped footwear seen everywhere, though Nike claim its apparel was donned more than all the other makes combined. In the early stages Nike looked like the victor. It’s ‘Risk Everything’ campaign triumphed convincingly over Adidas’ ‘All In or Nothing’ and though the latter sponsored nine teams in the tournament, for the first time more sides were wearing Nike branded kit.
However as is the way in many aspects of life, quality comes before quantity. Enter the semi-finals and four teams evenly split between the sportswear rivals. The final would either be a head-to-head between the two brands or one would miss out entirely. In Adidas’ corner sat Germany and Argentina, in Nike’s, Holland and Brazil. In the second game Holland took Argentina to the wire, the glove of Sergio Romero blocking their way. Yet it was the scenes in Belo Horizonte the night before that had got the world talking. The 7-1 drubbing of Brazil by Germany, one of the worst in football history, was bad news for South Americans but also less than positive for Nike. Football fans can be a fickle bunch and in the euphoria of the moment many could forget that Nike has little to do with organizing Brazil’s defensive line.
What hope remained for Nike vanished the following evening when Maxi Rodriguez’s penalty sent Argentina through. Brazil were out. Holland were out. Nike was out. An all Adidas final remained. Regardless of who became World Champions, Adidas was already a winner in Brazil. Despite this, Nike will leave Brazil’s shores happy with its work. It dominated off-pitch matters, Adidas, events on it. Perhaps an even 1-1 draw is a fair result.