FIFA World Cup 2010 sponsors gained online attention, as did prominent competitors who had no official connection with the football series. In a major ambush marketing success, Nike overshadowed the official FIFA partner Adidas on online attention and interest in the run-up to the tournament. Nike managed to pull online conversations its way by producing a popular soccer-themed ad that spread virally across the online community.
A similar, pre-tournament ambush also saw Carlsberg gaining mileage over Budweiser with online consumers. Budweiser was also a FIFA partner.
However, once World Cup 2010 started, both Adidas and Budweiser regained top attention online. From the opening kickoff, Adidas reasserted itself at the top of World Cup brand dialogue. A follow-up study by NM Incite, a Nielsen McKinsey Company, found that in the first two weeks of the tournament, Adidas overtook Nike as the top brand, its online buzz share accounting for 25.1 per cent, compared to 14.4 per cent before the event. Nike dropped from 30.2 per cent to 19.4 per cent.
The NM Incite follow-up study spanned a month-long period in the run-up to the tournament, ending on June 6 and continued into the first two weeks of the tournament (June 11-25). English language World Cup-related messages on blogs, message boards, groups, video and image sites — including Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter — were monitored for the study.
Part of Adidas' increased buzz levels were due to discussions around the controversial official ball — the Jabulani. For the week ending June 13, which included the first three days of the tournament, the ball accounted for eight per cent of all English-language messages related to the World Cup.
"Half the game in buzz is 'fanning the flames'," said Pete Blackshaw, executive VP, digital strategy, Nielsen. The Adidas football Facebook page, for instance, was up to over a million fans by the end of the first week of July. "At the end of the day, brands need to keep the buzz ball in the air as long as possible — sponsored or otherwise," Blackshaw added.