The real battle going on behind the World Cup

Adidas may be an official corporate partner of the FIFA World Cup, but most of the host country’s national team players in Brazil are wearing Nike

This reality must sting for Adidas marketing types. Decades ago, the company launched the groundbreaking practice of paying athletes to wear its shoes, paying sports teams to wear its jerseys, and paying a league to use its ball, as Brendan Greeley reported recently in his Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover story.

But just like at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Nike has done it again.  Continue reading

“Falling In Love in Six Acts” – the best ad campaign ever

Fair warning to my male readers: this is an article, more like a gushing fan letter really, about my very favourite ad campaign of all time, and it’s clearly directed at female consumers. Most men I’ve shown this to – including my business school profs and agency creative types I’ve worked with since then – merely scratch their heads and squint. They do not get it. And that’s okay, because men are simply not the target market for this ad. I love this brilliant ad so much that I’ve actually kept the original Vanity Fair magazine where I first discovered it back in October, 1993.

This ad breaks all the rules of effective advertising. It features huge blocks of small-font text, juxtaposed with ethereal full-page sepia photographs of women. And until you get to the very last page of this 12-page ad  – and we can only imagine what a 12-page ad in V.F. costs! – there’s not even a mention of any product that’s being advertised. For me, however, this ad works.  See what you think:   Continue reading

Adidas vs Nike: the World Cup battle of the brands

In its inimitable fashion, Nike has once again created an iconic if ever-so-slightly controversial advertising experience.  Its Write the Future ad takes viewers on a thrilling journey that dramatically captures that one moment in sport when headlines are written from a single play that can either bring eternal happiness or crushing despair. Soccer royalty Drogba, Ronaldo, Rooney, Ronaldinho, Donovan, Ribery, and Cannavaro are among the stars on film. Special guest cameos also include tennis legend Roger Federer, basketball superstar Kobe Bryant – and even one Homer Simpson.

But even though soccer (as we know it here in North America but football everywhere else on the planet) is the real star of Write The Future, you won’t see this Nike ad during any televised FIFA World Cup matches. That’s because it was sportswear arch-rival Adidas – not Nike – who paid $200 million to be named the official corporate partner for all World Cup events in South Africa.

That reality hasn’t stopped Nike from deciding to piggyback onto World Cup fever to capitalize on this can’t-miss marketing opportunity. And the hugely entertaining Write The Future has been viewed by over 21 million on YouTube so far. Take a look at this 3-minute full-length version and you’ll see why.

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