Goals, Players & Percentages: World Cup Brand Performance


One way in which “Brand Power” can be defined is the ability to influence consumer opinions and purchasing decisions based on the connotations,  messages, and images associated with the brand. Regardless of the truth of the definition, that definition is very high brow and esoteric, and in reality brand power for the most part is completely intangible. This intangible aspect of brand power makes CEO’s and investors jump right to sales volumes and revenue levels as indicators of strength and comparative growth. While there are many more indicators and contributors to growth, sales, and revenue, when it comes to the sports industry and sportswear, the best strategy is still to simply win.

This doesn’t mean win in more tangible, measurable, comparative business categories against your competitors, no, it means put your brand on the best teams’and the best players’ equipment. For all the discussion of viral campaigns, and social media buzz and trending topics, consumers, in many cases are more aware then ever that campaigns are advertisements. Yet the most obvious visual based advertisements, the logos on kits and cleats are still viewed in the context of the player and their performance on the field as a participant of the sport at its highest level rather than a billboard.

As a result on field performance, has the potential to be one of the most unadulterated and purest way to build brand associations.  With this in mind, using the 2014 Castrol Player Rankings, team winning percentage, and goals scored based on cleat brand we have decided to attempt to tangibly measure brand performance at this World Cup so far.  First and foremost, thank you to www.soccerbible.com (Follow @SoccerBible) for compiling the goals scored by each cleat silo of each brands through the tournament without which this would have been much more difficult (check out their boot stats page for a full breakdown).

As mentioned above, goals scored by brand will be one measurable of performance.  The other two will be winning percentage by brand, and taking the top 20 players on the Castrol Player Rankings and breaking down who their cleat and national team apparel sponsor is.  The winning percentage has two caveats to explain.  Ties will count as 1/2 win and 1/2 loss and for games where the same brand played each other (eg, Brazil vs Croatia in Group A, both Nike sponsored) then it was simply given as a win for the brand.  These three categories are in and of themselves measures of performance on the field and give the ability to draw out which brands are represented on field at the highest levels of performance at this World Cup, creating brands associations with those top-shelf individual and team efforts.

First up is goals scored.

While some goals are the result of grit and perseverance, other goals are the result of magnificent control and deft skill.  James Rodriguez, Robin Van Persie, and Neymar have all found the back of the net with spectacular skill and have contributed to the One Hundred and Forty Eight goals scored in the tournament so far.  Not surprisingly, Adidas and Nike absolutely dominating the goals scored category with Nike taking a slight lead by 3 goals.

Winning percentage is slightly less straight forward than goals scored.  Burrda and Belgium are unbeaten in this World Cup, while Lotto only falls short of 100 by one tie in the group stages. One thing to consider is that while Belgium and Costa Rica have both done tremendously well to make it to the Quarter-Finals, because Burrda and Lotto sponsor those teams respectively their winning percentage is tied to only those teams as well.  This is significant since Nike is tied to ten different teams in the tournament from underachieving Portugal to the high flying Dutchman of the Netherlands (See Apparel Sponsor Landscape article for full breakdown).

Nike edges Adidas out once again sitting just above .500 while Adidas sits just below .500 while Puma, whose teams are all knocked out of the tournament, sits at 37%. Lesser known brands marathon, who sponsors Ecuador, Uhlsport who sponsors Iran, and Joma, who sponsors Honduras, none of whom advanced, all have winning percentages based solely on their group performances.  Based purely on number of wins including ties which equal .5, Adidas actually edges Nike nineteen to seventeen.

This final measure comes from Castrol’s World Cup Player Rankings taking the top twenty players and looking at both the teams the play for and the cleats that they wear. Looking at the teams they play for tells us which brand provides the apparel sponsorship and then of those same 20 players which brands provide cleats to players on an individual basis.

Looking at the numbers, Nike and Adidas find an even split with which brand finds themselves on the highest ranking players’ feet. As far as what each of these players wears on their body though, Nike by far beats out every other brands with 10 players outfitted, with Adidas closest at 5 players, Puma at 3 and Burrda at 2.

These measures in no way represent the be all and end all of performance metrics as far as brand equity goes but as Nike understands nostalgia can be a very strong driver of consumption. Nostalgia obviously isn’t a factor in a tournament currently on going, but being recognizable in high quality, high profile moments of a major global tournament with record numbers in terms of viewership and consumer interaction can be the difference in edging market share at the time and gives the opportunity for that company and associated brand to leverage those moments later on down the line.

Fast forward 10 years, what will be the moments and aspects of this World Cup so far that you think will stay with you?

Reporting on the business side of the world's game.