MASH+UP June 2014
As the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Sao Paulo, it might seem like a battle between nations.
Yet commercially, the world is polarised between Adidas and Nike, characterised by Messi
and Ronaldo, Argentina against Brazil, and productised by the animal-marked Adidas F50
against the fly-knitted Nike Mercurial. Whilst Adidas is the official sponsor, Nike seeks to
“Make History” (as its slogan goes) by engaging fans in more creative and relevant ways.
Portugal (and Nike’s) Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s best known player, with 26 million
Twitter followers, compared to just 2 million for Argentina (Adidas’s) Lionel Messi. However
the South American gets closer on Facebook, with 57m to 82m likes. 7 of the 10 best known
players will have a swoosh on their boots, although more teams will have three stripes on
their shirts. Nike captures personalities, whilst Adidas sponsors the sport.
Adidas has supported FIFA since 1970, a time when Phil Knight was still trying to run the 4
minute mile rather than sell shoes. Nike, with total sales of $25bn to Adidas’s $20bn, only
entered football in 1994, and it remains when of the few categories where they aren’t
leaders. World Cup sponsorship costs Adidas $75m, plus a further $400m sponsoring
teams, delivering $2.4bn football revenue last year, $0.5bn more than their younger rivals.