Adidas might be attracting bad online buzz for its sponsorship of biting Uruguayan footballer Luis Suarez — but in the tussle to win the most World Cup social media play, the German firm says it is winning plenty of positive attention too.
With every tackle, save and goal, a simultaneous off-the-pitch marketing battle is being fought between official FIFA World Cup sponsor Adidas and arch-rival Nike Inc to dominate social media to promote their brands.
The stakes are high: Despite being a World Cup sponsor since 1970, Adidas is seeing its leadership in soccer challenged by Nike, especially after the world's biggest sportswear company dominated marketing at the 2010 competition through its savvy use of social media.
But with Brazil’s World Cup on track to be the most tweeted event ever — the social media network expects far more than the 150 million tweets sent during the London Olympics in 2012 — Adidas has the perfect arena to fight back.
A Reuters survey of the Twitter handles @adidasfootball and @nikefootball, using analytics website Tweetchup.com, shows Nike is slightly ahead so far in some key metrics including most retweets and the largest increase in followers during the event.
“Nike is perceived by a lot of folks as if they were a sponsor even though they are not spending as much as Adidas has with FIFA,” said Opher Kahane, chief executive of marketing intelligence firm Origami Logic, which advises big brands on social media strategy including World Cup sponsor Visa.
Determined to be the most talked-about brand, Adidas has set up a “newsroom” in the clubhouse of soccer club Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro, where around 50 Adidas staff generate real-time online content, including for the Twitter account of the World Cup’s official match ball, made by Adidas, the Brazuca.