Originally posted on MatthewGain.com

Source – Nielsen

According to independent studies by Nielsen and Meltwater, Nike has stolen a march on official sponsors by generating the most buzz online in the lead up to the World Cup. This fact has been lauded high and low by a range of media houses including the FT in Europe, Yahoo 7 in Australia and USA Today in the US. Yet in my opinion this research risks misrepresenting the efforts of the other players.

Few of the articles drill into the methodology employed to generate the results and the time period when the study was conducted greatly favours Nike’s World Cup campaign.

This post is not designed to prove the research wrong, but rather to put it into context and explore some of the reasons why Nike may have outperformed those further down the table.

For the purpose of this post I conducted a review of the methodology used in the research and reviewed the marketing activity of the top five ranked brands in the study to understand why Nike had won so convincingly. Note this research was not exhaustive.

I intend to post my research of the official sponsors in a series of updates this week on my blog.

As I struggled to find much information about the Meltwater study, beyond this post, and the fact that the findings were similar to the Nielsen study, for the purposes of this post I decided to focus only on the Nielsen findings.

Research Findings:

Research Methodology:

According to Nielsen:

Nielsen’s study, conducted between May 7th to June 6th 2010, looked at English language World Cup-related messages on blogs, message boards, groups, video and image sites – including Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter – that mentioned at least one of the 10 official FIFA partners and sponsors with a global footprint or two of their top competitors (30 brands in all).

Things to note about the methodology:

The problem with the methodology and the study for me is that it risks readers assuming that all brands were actively attempting to generate online buzz in the lead up to the event.

Nike’s World Cup video was launched on 17 May, meaning it benefited from 29 days of the survey period. Adidas’s Star Wars inspired World Cup video and its official World Cup video were launched on 4 June and 9 June respectively. Thus the research period accounted for only two days of the Star Wars video, whilst Adidas’s official World Cup video did not feature at all in the period.

The other thing to note is the fact that official sponsors will typically hold their big efforts until the tournament proper and an ambusher will always attempt to steal the early lead.

My view on the research:

Without a doubt Nike has done an amazing job generating buzz in the lead up to the World Cup, however as I have noted Nike was advantaged in this study by the favourable research period and the fact that the tournament hasn’t truly started.

I expect online buzz to increase as activity by official sponsors commences during the tournament. The tournament is a long way from being over, so are the opportunities for official sponsors to grow buzz and association from their sponsorships.

Irrespective you can’t argue about the success of Nike’s campaign and strategy of being involved with Football. Interestingly the success of the Nike video also highlights that plenty of people are still willing to be influenced and talk about a traditional advertising style piece of video content.

What do you think? Will the other brands build their momentum, or are their strategies and tactics missing the mark?

Disclosure: Pepsi is an Edelman client.

Image credit: Slate

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