How Adidas is using content marketing around the World Cup

Unless you’ve been living on another planet for the last few weeks, it would be hard to avoid knowing the 2014 World Cup kicks off tonight in Brazil.

As with many other large sporting events, the build-up to the tournament has been littered with stories about institutional corruption, levels of preparedness, and disquiet in the host country about about staging the event. Yet, if the Brazilian World Cup follows the traditional pattern, all this noise should fade away once the football begins and fans will get down to the serious business of shouting at their televisions as they watch men run about in the searing heat.

While millions are licking their lips at the feast of football to come, the governing body FIFA must already be sated by the expected £2.55bn the tournament will generate. No small part of this staggering figure has come in sponsorship. Six key firms have invested a reported £72m each for the right to be a ‘Partner’ of the 2014 World Cup and a further set of businesses is investing around £37m each to be a ‘FIFA World Cup Sponsor’.

Firms will try to squeeze every last bit of value from the huge sums they’ve invested. It won’t come as any surprise to hear this World Cup will be the most marketed in history – but how the tournament will be marketed, well, that’s a different matter. This competition will be the first proper digitally content-marketed World Cup – so what can we expect?

To back up it’s partner status, Adidas has devised a huge digital content marketing programme to help maintain its position as one of two (the other being Nike) leading global sportswear brands.

Before, during, and after the tournament, Adidas will will attempt to embrace fans like never before by engaging them with captivating content focused around YouTube videos and live events that use social media to draw in real-time interactions.

So what is it they are doing to ensure fans don’t stray offside?

All In


It would be bold indeed to challenge potential customers not to listen to any of your promotional messages – think how many you could lose if you get it wrong? But despite the risks, this is exactly the strategy Adidas has put in place. It has asked fans to either go ‘all in’ to engage with its biggest ever marketing campaign, or to ‘opt out’ and receive no further communications.

The All In campaign kicked off its World Cup promotion during an ad break at half time in the Champions League final last month. The video (the one at the top of this page) features Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi. The ad ends by asking viewers to ‘make a choice’ between ‘all in and nothing’. By clicking ‘all in’ users will automatically start following all Adidas’ World Cup content, including its football handles on Twitter. Those who click ‘nothing’ will automatically unfollow the brand’s football handles and will opt out of its CRM initiatives.

What could be seen as a rather stark and ultimately self-defeating proposition is, Adidas claims, actually a way of focusing on quality engagement over quantity across its social media channels.



As the manufacturer of the balls that will be used during World Cup games, Adidas has an immediate and genuine association with the competition – and to make the most of it, the firm put this fact at the centre of its World Cup build-up campaign.

Adidas put a camera inside one of the specially-designed ‘Brazuca’ footballs and sent it on a tour of countries competing in Brazil, creating a series of YouTube videos about each of its stops.

Instead of gathering all this content solely under its main Adidas social media banner sites, the firm uploaded the videos to its Adidas Football YouTube site and devised an independent @brazuca Twitter feed in an attempt to give the ball a voice as it travelled round the world.

It has to be said, this @brazuca idea is more than a little cringe-worthy, and lots of the content posted to the Twitter site is little more than pictures of ads or promotional tweets. This lack of real engagement with fans is probably the reason @brazuca only has 165,000 follows – that may sound like a lot, but when you compare it to the 33m views enjoyed by some of Adidas’s YouTube videos, it really puts it into perspective.

A one-nil defeat, perhaps.

# FastOrFail


Another of Adidas’s pre-tournament programmes was a gaming platform called #fastorfail that was powered by social media and offered one fan the chance to get to Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup.

The game, which came as an app or in a desktop version, asked players to compete as Messi and beat opposition defenders in order to progress to Brazil.

Those who completed the journey and get all the way to Brazil in the game are automatically eligible to win two tickets to the first Argentina game of the World Cup in Rio.

Not only did the game ask players to use their own talents, but is was also powered by social media, the more Messi was talked about online, the faster the game became and the more chance competing players had to win the trip to Brazil.

The Dugout


To follow-up the pre-tournament campaigns, Adidas has positioned itself as the medium through which fans can engage and converse with other fans and their sporting heroes during the tournament.

World Cup fans are being given the chance to put questions directly to their footballing heroes though a YouTube series called ‘The Dugout’ that will be broadcast live from Rio during the competition and feature chat with Brazilian football stars including Kaka, Cafu and Lucas Moura.

This live video content consists of six ‘youth magazine style’ football shows that will feature debates and behind-the scenes footage with Adidas-sponsored teams.

The strand will launch today to coincide with the opening game of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia. All shows will be broadcast across video streaming platform Google+ Hangouts and YouTube Live, with questions submitted via the firm’s social media channels.