Spotlight on...World Cup branding battle
Nike will unveil recycled polyester kits at this summer's event
Four years is a long-time in football, but the moment French captain Zinedine Zidane headbutted an Italian defender during the World Cup final at Berlin's Olympic Stadium will live long in the memory. The next question is, how many fans remember what brand of shirt he was wearing? Joe Ayling reports.
Italy won the last World Cup, but only after all-time great Zidane - who was wearing an Adidas shirt - had been red-carded for the unprecedented attack on Italy's Marco Materazzi, who was wearing a Puma one.
Likewise, when the 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa next month, it won't just be the teams battling it out for a windfall.
Just as players hold the hopes of a nation on their shoulders, they also carry the logo of a well-known sporting goods brand on their chest. Besides replica kits, the mass-exposure of a World Cup presents the opportunity to launch new boots, hats, scarfs and even suits.
Indeed, marketing chiefs must wake up pinching themselves at their swelling budgets for television, print and stadium advertising campaigns during World Cup year.
Meanwhile, fragile economies in Europe will thank every passing day that their national team survives in the tournament and the feel-good factor remains.
Let battle commence
Adidas is the official sponsor, supplier and licensee to the tournament, meaning Nike and Puma will look to splash their logos more strategically. All three stand to gain much from the event.
Christopher Svezia, a sporting goods analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, tells just-style: "The World Cup is an extremely competitive sporting event and Nike has been aggressive in looking for leadership in soccer.
"It's difficult to specify who'll be the winners and losers. While Adidas is the official sponsor and therefore has a lot of exposure, Nike will invest in significant presence too."
Of the 32 teams who have qualified for the finals, 12 will have their kits supplied by Adidas, ten by Nike, seven by Puma and the rest by brands including Brooks, Umbro, Joma and Pirma. Tournament time is likely to bring a surge in replica kit sales for these brands, together with extensive television exposure.
In addition to kit deals, Nike will showcase a new 'Elite' series of lightweight football boots and kit out its teams with new recycled jerseys produced from up to eight plastic water bottles. However, the brand came unstuck earlier this week when the launch of its feature length advert was cut off short on its UK debut.
Adidas will also provide the official match ball for the tournament, called the Jabulani, and says it is already "working on innovations" for the ball it will roll out for the 2014 finals in Brazil.
Puma, meanwhile, is investing in a massive World Cup promotional event with Africa's leading teams in Paris later this week. It includes an exhibition game between players from three of the African teams it will sponsor - Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana - and a free concert.
As the tournament progresses, each brand will want the coveted gold-plated trophy in the hands of a captain brandishing their logo. While Italy and Puma took the honour last time, this year's pre-tournament favourites Spain and Brazil are kitted out by Adidas and Nike respectively.
Svezia tells just-style: "When Italy won the World Cup in 2006, Puma just happened to be sponsoring that team, but you wouldn't have expected that situation to arise before the tournament.
"Adidas and Nike again seem to have a good stable of more noticeable teams than Puma, but all three will certainly want the team they are sponsoring in the final."
Boost to the economy
Aside from brands, troubled economies like Greece will see the World Cup as a welcome distraction with the potential to lift a nation.
In the UK for instance, The British Retail Consortium (BRC) estimates that four years ago the World Cup added some GBP1.25bn to retail spending, on goods including TVs, food & drink, and replica kits.
Krishan Rama, spokesperson for the BRC, tells just-style: "Replica kit sales will be boosted and there is much speculation that England will do better this time around, so that would boost sales."
It is worth noting that while supermarkets and sporting goods retailers are laughing all the way to the bank, others on the high street may suffer.
For instance, Moss Bros' finance director joked this week that British blokes might just sideline a trip down to the tailors should it intrude on the pre-match build up.
Rama says: "People only have a finite amount of money, so they might cut back in other areas to enjoy the World Cup more."
However, most retailers in the UK have managed to incorporate the tournament into their product mix and marketing somehow. Not least Marks & Spencer, which this year takes over from Armani as official suit supplier of the England team.
"Retailers are trying to line themselves up through marketing, and if England do well this can only boost the brand and improve sales," Rama adds.
Therefore, while the elimination process of the World Cup is often cruel, a sustained run for certain teams will be celebrated by governments and businesses as well as fans on the street.
Just like any major tournament, brands know that even during a downturn the 80-year old competition is just to good an opportunity to miss.
"Make no mistake about it, brands are going to spend big," Svezia adds.
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