Editorial: The brands emerge from the tunnel ...

It's here at last. 'Forty years of hurt' since 1966, and four years of intensive marketing, sponsorship and PR since the last World Cup in 2002.

By now we're all punch-drunk with themed TV programmes, coverage of healing metatarsals, endless laddish broadcast ads and cheesy commercial photocalls.

Fifa recently revealed that this competition will raise over EUR700m (£480m) in official sponsorship and hospitality alone. But it is only in the aftermath of the competition that one will be able to judge which campaigns worked, and which did not. Last time around, many media loudly proclaimed that Nike 'won the World Cup'. They were not only referring to the Nike-sponsored Brazil team beating Adidas-sponsored Germany in the final - and Nike-sponsored Ronaldo scoring the winning goal - but to Nike, not an official competition sponsor, outflanking Adidas with some smart ambush campaigns.

This time, with the World Cup staged on its home turf in Germany, Adidas was determined not to be outgunned. As our main feature this week shows (p22), the sportswear marque has so far come out on top in the preliminary rounds. Its media management has been exemplary and consumer recall of its links to the tournament outshines that of other brands.

Adidas, an official sponsor since 1970, has clearly learned a great deal in PR terms over the past three decades. This time it used a combination of celebrity (David Beckham), product (the Tunit boot), and media link-ups (Channel 4's +10 programme) to powerful effect. And the brand has extended its sponsorship of the competition to 2014. This is a good move, bearing in mind Fifa has reduced the number of official sponsors, from 15 to just six, for the next two World Cups.

Of course, there's still a lot to play for over the next month - and we could yet see another Adidas vs Nike final on 9 July. Many of us, however, will be hoping that the winners will instead be sporting a red and white Umbro kit.

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