Nike “ambushes” World Cup sponsor Adidas

Nike has struck another blow in its battle with Adidas for off-pitch supremacy by creating a bigger online buzz about its World Cup marketing campaigns than its German rival.


A study by Nielsen found that Nike’s “Write the Future” campaign, which features ambassadors including Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo, has led to a stronger association with the tournament than any other brand despite not enjoying the official partnership status Adidas does.

Nielsen analysed online blogs, message boards and social networking sites and found that Nike had the highest share of online pre-World Cup buzz, 30.2% compared with Adidas on 14.4%

The battle between the two sportswear brands for dominance in the lucrative football market was ramped up this week when Nike head of brand Charlie Denson refuted claims made by Herbert Hainer, Adidas’ chief executive that his brand was still the biggest in the sport.

Nike, which also owns England’s kit maker and partner Umbro, has 9 of the 32 teams competing in South Africa wearing its kits including Brazil and the US, while Adidas has 12 including Germany and Spain.

Adidas’ World Cup marketing activity has included a Star Wars-themed ad starring brand ambassadors David Beckham, Noel Gallagher and Snoop Dogg. It has also launched a campaign starring Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane.

Elsewhere, Nielsen found that FIFA partner Coca-Cola had five times the level of mentions around the World Cup than Pepsi did.

Carlsberg, a sponsor of the England national team, also appears to have successfully “ambushed” official World Cup sponsor Budweiser with its Team Talk ad starring Sir Trevor Brooking, Nigel Benn, Jack Charlton, Stuart Pearce and rock band Kasabian.

Nielsen found that Carlsberg had almost four times the level of mentions in English-language messages around the tournament than Budweiser

The World Cup starts today (11 June).

Latest from Marketing Week

Marketoonist on PowerPoint pitches

The Marketoonist

Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here Tom Fishburne will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing, which is taking place on 4 and 5 October at Tobacco Dock. To find out more information, including how to book tickets, visit […]


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here