On the risky proposition of sports endorsements

Forbes did an interesting write-up of the competing campaigns by Nike and Adidas in pursuit of the lion’s share of the world football market. Both brands are vying for domination even though Nike is a relative newcomer to the sport since 1994.

Based on the 7-1 humiliation Germany handed Brazil it appears that Nike did truly risk everything and unfortunately haven’t won the bragging rights to the marketing campaign. And their marquee sponsorship of Brazil, Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo have lost out by a long shot against Adidas’ Germany, the Netherlands’ Van Persie and Argentina’s Lionel Messi. Portugal and Ronaldo fizzled out in the group stage against the US, and going into the match with Germany, Brazil had not lost a match at home in nearly forty years. In that time Brazilians never had to grieve a loss on their home turf. Way back in 1975 Brazil lost to Peru 3-1 in the first leg of the Copa America semifinal. You can understand now why so many men, women and children were sobbing uncontrollably during and after the loss. Adidas thought they were out of luck early on as Spain dropped off the map by not even making it out of the group stage of the tournament. But they had their ace in the hole with both the German team and Messi.

But what does all this mean to the brands?What significance do the #AllIn and #RiskEverything hashtags have? What is the business impact to these retailing behemoths? What remains to be seen is whether either company was able to gain market share based on their all-out marketing campaign blitzes. Time will tell.

Everything risked, everything gained?

With the world cup closed, the sad part of the story was that Brazil was clinically torn to shreds in their semi-final against Germany. And potentially as a consequence, the worst part of the story for Nike was that they lost their ManU sponsorship promptly after that loss. Now, I doubt seriously that there was a direct connection, but one has to wonder. Did the fact that Nike did in fact risk their marketing savvy on a gamble—and lost—have anything to do with ManU summarily dumping Nike for Adidas the same day?


At any rate, what we have is Adidas not only picking up the win in the world cup, but also picking up a marquis franchise in ManU. Nike, that has got to hurt. Surely someone was let go as a result of losing a deal now worth $750M.

Well, we’ll continue to monitor the case. I’m sure I have a highly simplified view of the facts, but at face value Nike has at least lost some brand value.


Drummer. Techie. Futbolisto. Daddy.

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