July 15, 2018

Written By Farhat Chowdhury

A roaring crowd. Flags, jerseys and placards representing the two teams. Chants, anthems and the deafening roar of a thousand vuvuzelas. If you think these are all what this FIFA World Cup matches are all about, think again. This year’s World Cup hosts another legendary clash. A fight where two giants face each other and let it all out in a quest to come out as the sole conqueror. It’s a fight between Nike and Adidas.

Adidas, the German sportswear company, is clearly the reigning champion. It will be providing the shirts for 12 of the 32 nations in Russia, ensuring a high brand visibility in all across the stadiums as well as in the minds of all the die-hard supporters. Another huge weaponry in its armament is its long-standing legacy of supplying the World Cup match ball since 1970 and its deal with FIFA to sponsor the event until 2030.

The underdog of this fight is clearly Nike. The American clothing and sports accessories brand has its fair share of credibility; sponsoring 10 of the teams in this year’s biggest football fiasco. However, they have played around their strengths and easily tapped into a market which Adidas could not get a hold of – the boots of the football players. Nike has confirmed that 60% of the players will shoot the ball in the World Cup wearing their elegant boots. The fight in the boot category got an extra fuel as the Argentine football messiah Lionel Messi wears Adidas boots while the Portugese powerhouse Christiano Ronaldo wears boots endorsed by Nike.

Besides, Nike has also secured a big share of bragging rights; with its recent deal with UEFA Champions League until 2021. Adidas will also be looking forward to partner up with other leagues around the world, like Bundesliga and Seria A, with the goal to win this battle of the brands

It’s quite fascinating to see how a brand like Nike, which is mostly synonymous to Basketball, is catering to a whole new range of demographics. Football (mostly known as Soccer) is catching up in USA, with star-players such David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading their local Major League Soccer from the front lines. Hence, playing it big on the grand stage of football was something that Nike could not miss at any cost.

The revenues of these brands are staggering. Sales of Adidas rose to 2.5 billion euros by 2016, but slipped as a proportion of total Adidas revenue to 13.5 percent from 14.5 percent in 2014. It has not disclosed figures since then. On the other hand, Nike saw soccer sales fall a currency-adjusted 4 percent to $2 billion for its fiscal year ended May 31, 2017, accounting for less than 6 percent of group revenue.

Away from this vicious fight, German brand Puma is a distant third, sponsoring just four relatively lowly teams in the competition, compared with the eight it kitted out in 2014, dented by the failure of its top team Italy to qualify.

So whether it is France who hoists the World Cup today or Croatia who savors global domination for the first time, we surely know how exciting, nerve-wrecking and dynamic the battle of the brands have been!

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