Nike may have scored the first goal, but the World Cup is long

Level of pre World Cup Buzz Online1 Nike may have scored the first goal, but the World Cup is long

Source - Nielsen

According to independent studies by Nielsen and Meltwater, Nike has stolen a march on official sponsors by generating the most buzz online in the lead up to the World Cup. This fact has been lauded high and low by a range of media houses including the FT in Europe, Yahoo 7 in Australia and USA Today in the US. Yet in my opinion this research risks misrepresenting the efforts of the other players.

Few of the articles drill into the methodology employed to generate the results and the time period when the study was conducted greatly favours Nike’s World Cup campaign.

This post is not designed to prove the research wrong, but rather to put it into context and explore some of the reasons why Nike may have outperformed those further down the table.

For the purpose of this post I conducted a review of the methodology used in the research and reviewed the marketing activity of the top five ranked brands  in the study to understand why Nike had won so convincingly. Note this research was not exhaustive.

I intend to post my research of the official sponsors in a series of updates this week here on my blog.

As I struggled to find much information about the Meltwater study, beyond this post, and the fact the findings were similar to the Nielsen study, for the purposes of this post I decided to focus only on the Nielsen findings.

Research findings:

Rank Brand Type % Share of
Official and
Competitor Buzz*
1 Nike Non-affiliated Competitor 30.2%
2 adidas FIFA Partner 14.4%
3 Coca-Cola FIFA Partner 11.8%
4 Sony FIFA Partner 11.7%
5 Visa FIFA Partner 7.3%
6 Carlsberg Non-affiliated Competitor 3.9%
7 McDonald’s FIFA World Cup™ Sponsor 2.8%
8 Pepsi Non-affiliated Competitor 2.5%
9 Hyundai/Kia FIFA Partner 2.4%
10 Panasonic Non-affiliated Competitor 1.9%
Source: The Nielsen Company

Research Methodology:

According to Nielsen:

Nielsen’s study, conducted between May 7th to June 6th 2010, looked at English language World Cup-related messages on blogs, message boards, groups, video and image sites – including Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter – that mentioned at least one of the 10 official FIFA partners and sponsors with a global footprint or two of their top competitors (30 brands in all).

Things to note about the methodology:

The problem with the methodology and the study for me is that it risks readers assuming that all brands were actively attempting to generate online buzz in the lead up to the event.

Nike’s World Cup video was launched on 17 May, meaning it benefited from 29 days of the survey period. Adidas’s Star Wars inspired World Cup video and its official World Cup video were launched on 4 June and 9 June respectively. Thus the research period accounted for only two days of the Star Wars video, whilst Adidas’s official World Cup video did not feature at all in the period.

The other thing to note is the fact that official sponsors will typically hold their big efforts until the tournament proper and an ambusher will always attempt to steal the early lead.

My view on the research:

Without a doubt Nike has done an amazing job generating buzz in the lead up to the World Cup, however as I have noted Nike was advantaged in this study by the favourable research period and the fact that the tournament hasn’t truly started.

I expect online buzz to increase as activity by official sponsors commences during the tournament. The tournament is a long way from being over, so are the opportunities for official sponsors to grow buzz and association from their sponsorships.

Irrespective you can’t argue about the success of Nike’s campaign and strategy of being involved with Football. Interestingly the success of the Nike video also highlights that plenty of people are still willing to be influenced and talk about a traditional advertising style piece of video content.

What do you think? Will the other brands build their momentum, or are their strategies and tactics missing the mark?

Come back through the week, to read my reviews of the official and unofficial brand’s activity in relation to the World Cup.

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  • http://twitter.com/anthonyalsop Anthony Alsop

    Nice post Matt. Nike definitely got to the party early because it was the best time for them to get attention, as they weren’t an official sponsor of the World Cup. The money they saved on that partnership definitely allowed them to put that into a massive marketing campaign in and around live sites but also viral videos. But with anything, this world cup is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and we’ll see which brand won out in a few months (not weeks) time.

    • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

      My gut feel is that Nike will still be the winner, but that is just my gut feel.

  • http://twitter.com/anthonyalsop Anthony Alsop

    Nice post Matt. Nike definitely got to the party early because it was the best time for them to get attention, as they weren't an official sponsor of the World Cup. The money they saved on that partnership definitely allowed them to put that into a massive marketing campaign in and around live sites but also viral videos. But with anything, this world cup is not a sprint, it's a marathon, and we'll see which brand won out in a few months (not weeks) time.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dj_justjay Jason Arican

    Hi Matthew,

    First- let me say thank you for the mention of the work that we did here.

    I think you are absolutely right to point out that Nike greatly benefited from the timing and instant popularity of its “Write the Future” video. But as both you and Anthony mention, this is a long tournament and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

    From our standpoint, these numbers reflect a simple volume count over the time period of 5/24-6/10 and are meant to be a rough gauge. There are so many variables and factors in something as fluid as this, we wanted to keep our analysis as simple as possible in order to not open up Pandora’s Box. In terms of scope, our source base is comparable to the description by Nielsen provided above.

    We will continue to monitor this trend to see how it changes as the games go on. Surely Nike will have more ads and there will certainly continue to be controversy over the Adidas ball!

    Jason Arican
    Managing Director|Client Relations
    Meltwater Buzz

    • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

      Thanks for your comment Jason and your overview of the methodology used by Meltwater.

      Is there any chance you could update the next update on the Meltwater blog? That way people like me will have easy access to your data and can help spread it further.

      I look forward to seeing how the data changes over time.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dj_justjay Jason Arican

    Hi Matthew, First- let me say thank you for the mention of the work that we did here. I think you are absolutely right to point out that Nike greatly benefited from the timing and instant popularity of its "Write the Future" video. But as both you and Anthony mention, this is a long tournament and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.From our standpoint, these numbers reflect a simple volume count over the time period of 5/24-6/10 and are meant to be a rough gauge. There are so many variables and factors in something as fluid as this, we wanted to keep our analysis as simple as possible in order to not open up Pandora's Box. In terms of scope, our source base is comparable to the description by Nielsen provided above. We will continue to monitor this trend to see how it changes as the games go on. Surely Nike will have more ads and there will certainly continue to be controversy over the Adidas ball!Jason AricanManaging Director|Client RelationsMeltwater Buzz

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    Thanks for your comment Jason and your overview of the methodology used by Meltwater. Is there any chance you could update the next update on the Meltwater blog? That way people like me will have easy access to your data and can help spread it further.I look forward to seeing how the data changes over time.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    My gut feel is that Nike will still be the winner, but that is just my gut feel.

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  • http://www.guydownes.com.au Guy Downes

    Matt, I think Nike has taken a clever approach, especially with their ‘sliding doors’ style story line in the video ad. Aside from the channels they have used to generate buzz and get my attention, the storyline, players and the filming draws me in (as well as many others, with over 16m views on YouTube). I think they have captured my imagination by showing what could transpire when things go well or badly e.g. Rooney being knighted in comparison to him living in a caravan. The story gives it legs. It also potentially opens up options for an online follow-up or sequel perhaps depending if any of the players in the video do well or fail at the World Cup.

  • http://www.guydownes.com.au Guy Downes

    Matt, I think Nike has taken a clever approach, especially with their 'sliding doors' style story line in the video ad. Aside from the channels they have used to generate buzz and get my attention, the storyline, players and the filming draws me in (as well as many others, with over 16m views on YouTube). I think they have captured my imagination by showing what could transpire when things go well or badly e.g. Rooney being knighted in comparison to him living in a caravan. The story gives it legs. It also potentially opens up options for an online follow-up or sequel perhaps depending if any of the players in the video do well or fail at the World Cup.

  • http://www.guydownes.com.au Guy Downes

    Here’s a good article from The Economist on Nike’s general success so far at the World Cup: http://www.economist.com/node/16486727?fsrc=scn/tw/te/ar/nikeswoosh

    “Sales of football-related products at Nike, the world’s largest sportswear-maker, increased by 39% in the three months to the end of May, before the tournament in South Africa even began”.

  • http://www.guydownes.com.au Guy Downes

    Here's a good article from The Economist on Nike's general success so far at the World Cup: http://www.economist.com/node/16486727?fsrc=scn….. "Sales of football-related products at Nike, the world’s largest sportswear-maker, increased by 39% in the three months to the end of May, before the tournament in South Africa even began".

  • http://www.guydownes.com.au Guy Downes

    Here's a good article from The Economist on Nike's general success so far at the World Cup: http://www.economist.com/node/16486727?fsrc=scn….. "Sales of football-related products at Nike, the world’s largest sportswear-maker, increased by 39% in the three months to the end of May, before the tournament in South Africa even began".

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