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Brands Battle in Brazil

With the World Cup only days away it seems it’s not only nations that will be going head to head at the tournament – brands are in on the act too. As battles rage on the pitch, big names clash off it, all looking to cut through the crowd and get one over on their rivals.

Pepsi Max has unveiled the latest instalment in its ‘Beats of the Beautiful Game’ series. The short film, written and directed by actor, Idris Elber and titled ‘Unstoppable’, is the second creative in the campaign that forms part of Pepsi’s 2014 football strategy. ‘Beats of the Beautiful Game’ is a visual album consisting of 11 songs with matching short films that will be released each week. The campaign aims to capture the sights, sounds and international spirit of football, helping the drinks brand to gain global attention around the World Cup. Pepsi has signed up musicians, including Rita Ora and Kelly Rowland, for the project in a bid to take on rival, Coca Cola, which traditionally has a strong association with music and is one of the six title sponsors for the tournament. With such a strong and different execution, sports marketing agencies note Pepsi looks well set to make its mark and steal some of its rival’s thunder.

Another battle now being raged sees Adidas’ ‘All In or Nothing’ campaign, vying with Nike’s ‘Risk Everything’ initiative. Comprising TV and Youtube ads, ‘All In or Nothing’ offers fans the chance to opt out of Adidas’ digital initiatives during the World Cup. Whilst the apparel brand is clearly looking to grow its social media audience, as yet it is hard to see what fans get in return as the Adidas has yet to make this clear. The campaign launches at a time when Adidas is rumoured to be chasing a one point six billion pounds sales target for its football division, which is intended to combat declines across other key markets.

Other organizations riding the World Cup wave are Beats by Dre and sandwich chain, Subway. Having signed partnerships with Liverpool and England striker, Daniel Sturridge, the headphone brand looks set to take on tournament official sponsor, Sony, whilst Subway has positioned itself against long-standing FIFA supporter, McDonalds. Sturridge will feature alongside Neymar in Dre’s forthcoming global TV campaign. Although players are banned from wearing non-Sony headphones around World Cup venues to protect the sponsors’ rights, Beats, which was recently bought by Apple for $3bn, sees the tournament as key to its European expansion. Meanwhile Subway is using Sturridge to lead its active lifestyle positioning across its advertisements for its low-fat sub range.

Finally Volkswagen has also launched a major World Cup advertising push, going toe-to-toe with the tournament’s sponsor, Hyundai. The German car manufacturer has bought substantial ad space across ABC, ESPN and Univision to promote its GTI model during match coverage. Despite Hyundai’s tournament association, Volkswagen believes the spectacle is the perfect platform to promote sales of its performance-orientated GTI. The car is popular with the large number of American Hispanics who watch the World Cup and with whom Hyundai has less influence.

From a sports PR perspective, the tussles will be fascinating to sports agencies with one eye on the tournament. Whereas only one country can emerge victorious and lift the trophy, it looks like there’s scope for multiple brands to gain in Brazil.

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