We asked the industry who it considered had won the sponsorship World Cup and the answers were more interesting than expected. The response that had been on the cards was Adidas. After all, not only was it a Tier 1 sponsor, but it also had kit deals with the two finalists and spent a fortune on activating its rights globally.
Adidas judged FIFA World Cup 2014 most successful sponsor
Not surprisingly, it came out as overall winner with just over 30% of the vote and was way ahead of the other FIFA Tier 1 partners. What was a surprise, however, was how highly the industry rated Castrol’s impact. Like Adidas in the Tier 1 category, it romped home ahead of the other Tier 2 contenders, but it also won several categories such as best use of sales promotion, best use of micro-sites and most creative sponsor.
Interestingly the industry felt that Nike was very successful and placed the brand third overall. As discussed later in the analysis, the company spent heavily on official rights to teams and players, so its ‘ambusher’ label is perhaps a little unfair. What is interesting, however, is that on the whole its big teams (Brazil, England and France) and players (Ronaldo and Rooney) fared badly, although this was balanced somewhat by good performances from teams such as Holland, the USA and Australia, and Neymar, the ‘poster boy’ for the competition who was arguably fortunate in terms of image, although not circumstance, to have missed the trouncing of Brazil by Germany. The question, therefore, is how much value is accorded to both official status and the success of the properties sponsored, versus the creative execution of the sponsorship?
Nike arguably has a stronger reputation than Adidas for its creative work and the brand continued to invest heavily in its marketing for the 2014 World Cup. Adidas benefited from the overall success of the tournament, as well as its teams and players such as Messi and Rodríguez. Arguably its greatest creative element was the Brazuka ball. It looked good, performed well (unlike some previous balls which had received negative publicity) and had a great name that went down well with children in particular. Nike’s use of Neymar and Ronaldo, despite what happened on the pitch, showed that having superstar ambassadors is a very powerful marketing tool and dollar for dollar, possibly more impactful than official event rights.
It is interesting to note the relatively low score for Coca-Cola. Obviously the poll gives only one option for voters, so even if the industry thought that such an experienced sponsor performed well, it wouldn’t necessarily show up in the results – but it is noticeable that it didn’t fare particularly well in some of the specialised categories discussed later.
FIFA World Cup 2014 Tier 1 sponsors
Among Tier 1 sponsors, Adidas was again the clear winner, but the results for Visa and Emirates in particular will be disappointing. Emirates’ activation was fairly low key, so its score is not surprising. Sony would perhaps have expected to have had more impact given that it had invested a lot in broadcast sponsorship and its One Stadium Live campaign. Similarly, Hyundai/Kia spent heavily on advertising and online activation but its high profile offerings didn’t overly impress the industry.
FIFA World Cup 2014 Tier 2 sponsors
Among Tier 2 sponsors, Castrol was the runaway winner although both Budweiser and McDonald’s registered reasonable scores, whereas Johnson & Johnson , Continental and Yingli Solar each polled well below 10%. Domestic brands Oi and Moy Park, failed to even register. Obviously their activations we targeted more at the home audience, but there were a healthy number of voters from Brazil and the activation rights were global.
FIFA World Cup 2014 sponsor creativity
The industry clearly felt that Castrol’s activation was most creative. The company clearly had a smaller budget for rights and TV advertising than most Tier 1 sponsors, but it used one player, Neymar, in its ‘Footkhana’ ads, which showed the player take on Ken Block in a car v star game. Interestingly, despite having the rights, the ad didn’t really refer to the World Cup, but then it didn’t need to.
Castrol’s Index, an online player performance monitor, not only tracked every touch a player made, it also analysed their impact on the game. This is precious ammunition for armchair supporters and was clearly seen by the industry as of far greater value than some of the more gimmicky offerings of other sponsors. Index was complemented by ‘Predictor Challenge’, which allowed fans to make online predictions with the most successful eligible for prizes.
Coca-Cola scored reasonably highly for a series of initiatives including the Trophy Tour, its ‘Happiness Flag’ which received more than 200,000 photos to make a giant online mosaic and its ‘Mini Bottles’ campaign, which allowed users to use an App to interact with labels.
FIFA World Cup 2014 sponsors use of social media
Again, Castrol scored highly here in its activation of the Index. Ahead of the World Cup the Footkhana ad was reportedly the most shared World Cup of all time, with more than 640K shares across Facebook and Twitter and social media was used to promote many of the sales promotions run during the tournament. In India, for example, the company brought in Bollywood celebrity John Abraham to boost social media presence and successfully engaged with Twitter influencers and football enthusiasts.
FIFA World Cup 2014 sponsors use of micro-sites
Micro-sites are arguably the most interesting activation area for the 2014 World Cup. For several years the sponsorship industry had been talking about social media as key to activation success, but without good content, social media is, to an extent, an empty channel. Many of the sponsors poured significant resources into micro-sites and again, Castrol’s Index and Predictor Challenge were seen to come out on top.
Sony’s One Stadium campaign and the Coca-Cola’s activation, as discussed, were also admired by the industry. Hyundai had in