With this Sunday being the final of the World Cup I’ve been thinking a little bit. While we all know that the World Cup is contested between 32 countries and gets whittled down until much like Highlander, there can be only one!
However, is it just countries who contest the World Cup? Not really, the World Cup serves as an important battlefield for the kit and boot manufacturers, especially the titans of Adidas and Nike. And, if I’m honest irrespective of whether Argentina or Germany lift the World Cup Trophy on Sunday, the big winner will have been the three stripes, and considering their start it’s a bit of a shocker.
The run up to the World Cup was a big rough on the German brand, their Battle Pack colourway was roundly panned (rightfully so) design wise, whereas Nike’s Summer Pack received a warmer response from the market, possibly because the North American market tends to be more Nike friendly, but also possibly because Nike’s colourway didn’t resemble some strange zebra-dalmatian hybrid.
Then you had the fact that Nike put out a vastly superior World Cup advertisement with their The Last Game mini-film, which for my money decisively beat the Lionel Messi dream commercial.
Results on the pitch however, were a bit different. In the group stage Nike lost 50% of their sponsored teams in the group stage, including Portugal who are led by reigned World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo. Somewhat less surprisingly the swoosh bid adieu to England in the group stage, which is only really a concern when it comes to the shifting of kits from store shelves.
Adidas, fared slightly better as they passed 55% of their sponsored clubs to the knockout rounds, with the only real shocker being the absolute abject failure of the defending World Cup champions Spain. Indeed, Spain aside all of Adidas’ major players advanced, Argentina, Germany, Colombia, and well respected mid-major Mexico.
Speaking of on the pitch happenings, the Golden Boot will be awarded to an Adidas player. Will James Rodriguez hold off Thomas Muller? Will Lionel Messi put in an Messi-esque performance in the final and take the crown? It matters not, the leading goalscorer at the World Cup will have done so wearing the three stripes. Also worth mentioning is that Adidas as a brand has scored 74 total goals so far compared to 73 for Nike, despite the fact that Nike boots were on the feet of over 50% of all players to partake in this summers tournament.
As we head to Sunday’s final, the facts shift even more in the direction of the Herzogenaurach based supplier, our friends at Soloporteros have created another cracking chart breaking down who’ll be wearing what in the final between two Adidas sponsored giants.
The numbers are some reading, in the battle between Nike and Adidas, it’s a technical knockout for the German sportswear giant, of the proposed starting XI for both sides 15 players wear the three stripes, which is a 68% clip, if you factor in the substitutes bench, that number jumps 4 more percent up to 72%.
And when you factor in that the 13 of the 14 adidas player on the pitch will be wearing extremely similar, very difficult to differentiate boots, you start to see that the three stripe had a master plan going into the tournament. Why not design all boots to look alike and make sure the numbers set your brand’s boots well apart. Nike actually made a similar move at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with their Mach Purple series of releases, but it seems they took a different direction this time around. Either way, adidas really made it work for them at this summer’s tournament!
If you factor in all of the numbers it’s pretty plain to see that despite losing the initial marketing battle, Adidas definitely recovered well to win the war that was the 2014 World Cup.
Final note, it is important to note that Puma also did a phenomenal job with their dual colored designs and advertising campaign, cementing their place as a top all around competitor to the big two. If anything, they made some significant strides in closing the gap, but there is still a ways to go if they are to take the limelight away from either.
Now it’s your chance to offer your two cents, am I way off in my assessment? Happy with Adidas’ recovery throughout the tournament? Gutted for Nike? Leave a comment down below or always reach out on the twitter or the facebook!