As a soccer lover, and marketer – I have to admit I paid almost as much attention to the advertising and marketing during the Cup as I did to the actual matches.  Yesterday Jonah Bloom of Ad Age published a wonderful roundup of all the World Cup advertising battles and pointed to the big winners, and losers of the Cup – as well as learnings for marketers.  Here are a few highlights I found interesting:

  1. Nike Rolls Over for Adidas – I have a bias here, as I think any real soccer player would never choose Nike gear over Adidas (unless they get millions of dollars in sponsorship money, of course).  So Adidas’ brilliant spots (see below) evoking the emotion of the game struck a particular chord.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to feel this, as Bloom also liked the ads and points to Nike’s efforts (fueled by their unfortunate allegiance to the disappointing Brazilian team) as a general failure.  More surprisingly was Nike’s seeming willingness to cede defeat to Adidas during the Cup.  Adidas should enjoy their uncontested victory – it doesn’t happen often.
  2. Budweiser’s Sponsorship Backfires – I wonder what marketing genius came up with the idea of having Budweiser (the American "King of Beers") sponsor the World Cup in Germany, a country where I imagine even ten year olds can smell the difference between good and crap beer.  Compounded by PR blunders such as Bud forcing 1000 Dutch fans to remove their orange lederhosen (saying Heineken on it) and come to the game in their underwear because they wore the name of a competing product.  Predictably, there was a backlash against Bud and soccer fans everywhere revolted against the King of Beers.
  3. Women were 39% of the Audience – Most media planners misjudged the skew to women for the overall Cup, resulting in lots of ads targeted to men behaving badly.  Imagine if just one advertiser read this trend right – and got the monopoly.  Again, this was probably not that hard to predict, as soccer players are generally the best looking athletes of any sport.  For proof, just ask any woman if she agrees.
  4. American Soccer Fans Ignore Media – When it comes to enjoying the game, Americans that know and love soccer are actively avoiding the amateur commentators on ABC/Espn.  A few reasons – the annoying bottom scroll bar during games bringing soccer fans "vital" news updates like Ben Rothlisberger crashing his motorcycle, the focus on star players and lack of knowledge of other players, and short changing of many games to ESPN2 (as if anyone gets that channel in HD).  OF course, that didn’t stop them from advertising "all games broadcast in HD."  Fed up soccer fans in the US flocked to the web and Univision or other spanish language channels instead, ignoring ABC/ESPN’s substandard coverage.  And for those that enduring it, many did so with the "mute" button on.