Nike – They really did write the future

I’ve loved the World Cup so far, in fact I’ve come to a loss now there isn’t a game every day.  And to be honest, the games are rather more exciting now that one team has to win.

Admittedly, the World Cup hasn’t been without its disappointments, and I don’t need to state the obvious as you all know what I’m talking about. But it’s not only the English, French and Italian fans who are feeling totally put out by their national side.  One has to spare a thought for the king of football brands –Nike.

Nike spent an absolute fortune on their TV ad for the World Cup, and most of that money most probably went on the starring footballers. But not one of the star-studded players has even remotely performed at this year’s World Cup and now they have all gone home and left the tournament with their heads bowed.  Ronaldhino wasn’t even picked for the Brazilian side, Ribery was part of the shocking debacle that was the French team, whilst Wayne Rooney was voted as one of the most disappointing player of the tournament so far by a Guardian poll.

I’d personally love to see Wayne Rooney grow a beard and move to a caravan (I’m an Arsenal fan)…! But what really struck me, now that England are finally out, is the truth in the Write the Future ad. Nike tapped into the real emotions that a nation feels around a World Cup and magnified it, brilliantly. A whole nation can turn hope and belief into hatred and contempt and put all that on the shoulders of one person. Wayne Rooney has even pulled out of the A3:K challenge scheduled for the 19th July at the O2 for fear of the public backlash after his poor performance in South Africa. Just look at the public reaction after Beckham’s red card in 2002; at least this year we’ve not seen any effigies, thank goodness. 

Perhaps Nike are to blame for his shockingly bad performance – Wayne saw the future and it scared him, scared him so much he forgot how to use his legs and feet.

Oh, and just for the record my money’s on Spain.


Brands capitalise on England defeat

What went wrong? I may not be an expert when it comes to football, but being crushed by a better side is certainly one of the dangers in football.

This was certainly the case yesterday after watching Germany crush England 4 – 1 in the World Cup. It’s being labelled as one of the darkest on-field hour’s English football has known and one which leaves many questions to be answered at every level of the game.

Meanwhile, as the nation mourns the end of England’s hopes in the World Cup, in the world of advertising some very smart brands are quickly attempting some speedy, tactical branding, and why not!  

Interestingly, car brand Kia has run an advertisement in The Times today paying tongue-in-cheek reference to England’s horrific World Cup defeat by Germany. “Oh well, at least our warranty beats the Germans” is the headline Kia has opted for, which promotes Kia’s seven-year warranty. Had England won the match, the ad placed in the paper would have read “Our warranty beats the German’s too.”

Elsewhere, Asda is also trying to get some mileage out of the England defeat, by craftily offering anyone with a Uruguayan passport a free eye test. The iconic supermarket issued the offer after the linesman in yesterday’s match, who was from Uruguay, disallowed Frank Lampard’s second goal. Immediately after the linesman’s decision, Asda Tweeted: “Free eye test for anyone with a Uruguayan passport after Lampard’s goal disallowed” via Twitter.

The Tweet was also quickly followed up with a blog on the supermarket’s website reinforcing the message that Asda provides cheap eye care.

All proof that placing advertising in advance means being ready for anything.

Has Bavaria’s ambush marketing backfired or is FIFA pursuing diminished returns?

It was announced last week that FIFA is to file a civil case against Bavaria, the brewer behind the now famous ambush marketing activity at the World Cup, as well as filing potentially very serious criminal charges against two Dutch women who are alleged to have organised the stunt.

Clearly commercial sponsorship should be taken seriously. A lot of time, effort and money goes into these agreements, 35% of the budget of an event like the World Cup can be made up with sponsors’ cash, and FIFA absolutely has a right to protect its own revenues and the investment of its offical event partners.

However, and this is what makes it so fascinating from a PR perspective, obviously FIFA are risking negative publicity for being too draconian – we now have two women who have a jail term hanging over their heads for wearing  orange dresses at a Holland match. But also, the greater the vehemence with which they complain, the greater the value of the stunt itself as it will only create more coverage. So the more FIFA try to discourage ambush marketing, the more they encourage it.

What will ‘the man on the street’ think about the above image?

One thing that must also be considered by FIFA’s PRs is the nuances of the situation. Ambush marketing, (other examples being Linford Christie’s Puma branded contact lenses at an Adidas sponsored pess conference, or cans of Pepsi being handed out by attractive women on rollerskates outside a Coca-Cola branded stadium) is more likely than other activity to appeal to the general public. It’s creative, generally amusing, and more often than not, a little bit clever and a little bit fun, and can be seen as contributing to the celebratory occasion.

FIFA must proceed with caution. It will be all too easy to see things from their sponsors’ perpective alone, with Budweiser certain to be calculating the financial value of another beer brand getting five seconds of abstract airtime. But from the PR perspective it’s about considering the impact on the public consciousness in the real world.

In fact, had FIFA kept their response a little further behind the scenes,  the cameras may have merely lingered on the group of striking Dutch supporters before moving on and the vast, vast majority of the watching public would have been none the wiser.