NEW YORK (MainStreet) World Cup partners may already know this, but we feel it's worth reiterating: $100 million is a lot to spend for the privilege of being one-upped by your biggest competitors.
Official World Cup partners Adidas, Coca-Cola, Sony, Visa, Hyundai/Kia and Emirates paid roughly $100 million a pop to attach World Cup logos and licensing to their brand. Second-tier sponsors including McDonald's, Johnson & Johnson, Anheuser-Busch InBev's Budweiser and BP's Castrol shelled out $20 million apiece for the same privilege. Yet most of them are about to be upstaged by the very companies World Cup partnership was supposed to fend off.
Guerilla marketing happens. It's a common, if not annual, occurrence at the Super Bowl and March Madness and it certainly happens at the World Cup. Whether it's national team sponsors elbowing in or direct competitors exploiting vulnerable counterparts with help from their hired pitchmen, there are always routes around that pesky and expensive official sponsorship route.
We've already mentioned how Landon Donovan's absence affected companies who thought he would make the U.S. Men's National Team roster, but there are other companies who'd love nothing more than to pick their competitors' and FIFA's pocket. We found five examples of companies who dumped a whole lot of their annual marketing budget into poaching their rival's precious World Cup air time:
Official World Cup sponsor: Adidas
Poor Adidas. The Frankfurt-based footwear company still managed to edge Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike in soccer revenue last year $2.7 billion to $2 billion but Adidas lost its stranglehold on Western Europe and watched its shares slump as Nike's soared.
Now, when Adidas' commercial featuring music by Kanye West and appearances from Dani Alves, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Suarez, Xavi, Jordi Alba, Mesut Ozil, Robin van Persie, David Villa and Argentine superstar Lionel Messi should be grabbing eyeballs and leading the World Cup charge, Nike's "Winner Stays" ad is getting all the raves.
By turning a bunch of kids in a pickup game into Nike endorsers Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gerard Pique, Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Gotze, Eden Hazard, Thiago Silva, Andrea Pirlo, David Luiz, Andres Iniesta, Thibaut Courtois and Tim Howard, Nike took the focus off the World Cup itself and gave its ad more of a universal message.
Ronaldo was more than happy to tweet that out to his millions of followers, while the somewhat more reclusive Messi has stayed away from Twitter altogether. This was a battle fought not on television screens, but on social media and the loudest voice and most powerful meme won the day.