As part of Business of Soccer’s examination of the numerous business aspects of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the image below depicts the presence of boot manufacturers among the top 50 players at this summer’s tournament. By gauging brand presence among major players, we’ll establish an expectation as to which sporting goods manufacturers will make the biggest impact in connecting star-power with consumers. Our list is provided by popular soccer blog Caught Offside; note that some of the players featured below have since been ruled out of the tournament due to injury.
Consistent with our look at the landscape of national team apparel sponsors at the World Cup, the presence of Adidas, Nike, and Puma among the top players at the tournament generally corroborates the current state of the market.
Nike and Adidas are neck and neck, each claiming one of the top two players in Ronaldo and Messi. Puma follows with a little less than half of the presence of the market leaders, but nevertheless boasts a reputable group of stars. As touched on above, the injuries to some notable stars have hurt the likes of Puma and Nike, exemplified by the absences of Radamel Falcao, Marco Reus, and Frank Ribery. There are also concerns over Cristiano Ronaldo’s health; anything but a memorable performance from the Portuguese captain would be a huge blow for both Portugal and Nike.
Noteworthy is a trend in the World Cup where both a country and a unit of key players share the same sponsor. This creates a valuable marketing tool for brands whereby groups of players can essentially become a complete marketing vehicle for sporting goods manufacturers. This is demonstrated by sides like Germany, where a high concentration of quality players, and the team, are sponsored by Adidas. The United States also provide this opportunity to Nike, with Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Tim Howard all wearing the American brand. They might not be counted among the top 50 players at the World Cup, but they are recognizable and deliver value to Nike in the American market. Additionally, Cristiano Ronaldo wearing Nike for Portugal to match his footwear and personal sponsorship allows him to appear in a Portugal uniform in the brand’s extensive promotional efforts. This is an opportunity that Nike cannot explore with Ronaldo on the club level, where he wears the Adidas Real Madrid kit. These double features, where a brand sponsors a player and their respective national team, can drive sales for jerseys, cleats, and apparel.
Based on the analysis above, and of no real mystery, Adidas and Nike are poised to have a huge World Cup from a representation, and consequently, business perspective.