Last year global sportswear group Nike signed what is believed to
be the biggest ever sports sponsorship deal with the Brazilian football
team, the current World Cup holders. Nike is said to have bought out
Umbro from its existing contract with the team, replacing it with a
dollars 400 million deal over ten years.
Brazil joins the Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Nigerian and the US
national sides, as well as the UK Premiership’s Arsenal, in a growing
portfolio of football kit sponsorships.
Under the sponsorship agreement, Nike will manufacture and supply
sportswear for the Brazilian team. It also retains the right to host
five friendly games per season involving Brazil in Europe, Asia and the
Americas. Nike will gain the benefit of further exposure via billboards,
merchandise and accompanying literature.
To raise the profile of the Nike brand through its links with Brazilian
football - ’the beautiful game’ - and help make Nike the dominant brand
in football .
To mark the agreement, Nike’s in-house staff from offices in the US, UK,
the Netherlands and Brazil pooled their resources to arrange an
international press launch on Sugar Loaf mountain in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil on 5 December 1996.
The new Nike kit was introduced and there was a live satellite link-up
with Brazilian football team stars Ronaldo and Giovanni. The vice
president of Nike and the Brazilian football coach were also present at
the venue along with 20 of the company’s in-house staff from its offices
The launch included the company’s proposals on its strategy to ally Nike
with the theme of football.
Nike flew in journalists from around the world, and a select group were
also taken to the Brazilian training camp to watch the under-21
In addition, the news was distributed through the usual news channels
Between 150 and 200 international journalists attended the Rio
Perhaps unsurprisingly, as more than 90 native journalists attended, the
story truly hit the headlines in Brazil.
In the US, where the negotiations for the sponsorship deal were carried
out, both the print and broadcast media gave a detailed review, with the
New York Times and USA Today both devoting half a page to the story.
UK journalists from the Sun, the Express and a number of sports
magazines were taken out to Rio by Nike’s UK PR department. The story
was also covered by the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and the Daily
Mail. The BBC ran a mention on its lunch time news programme.
As for the overall sponsorship, the success of the deal cannot truly
measured until Brazil’s first ’Nike game’ in the spring. However as
Richard Rivlin, City correspondent on the Daily Telegraph and an expert
on retail, points out: ’Next time the world champion team celebrates it
will be in a Nike kit.’
Spokesperson for Nike, Europe, Tim Wolly is confident that this, and
other sports sponsorships will enable the company to target armchair
fans as well as dedicated match-goers and existing Nike customers.
Launch-wise the event evidently hit the spot, with an impressive media
attendance and adequate, widespread coverage. Nike pulled out the stops
and achieved that difficult task of international PR co-ordination with
apparent ease and panache.
PR Team: Global in-house PR staff
Campaign: The launch of Nike’s sponsorship deal with the Brazilian
Time scale: December 1996
Budget: Estimated dollars 400 million for whole sponsorship programme.