Battle of the brands – Nike v Adidas at Euro2016

With the 2016 UEFA European Championships kicking off this week, the battle between two of sport’s biggest brands, Nike and Adidas is starting to take shape, data Repucom’s new European Football Report shows.

The two sportswear giants are at the centre of the battle as the two gear up to maximise the advertising and sponsorship potential of the Euros this summer. Traditionally the battleground has been the supplying of kits and the endorsement of the world’s best and most recognised players.

For over 20 years, Adidas have led the way in terms of the number of competing teams to be kitted out at the tournament. This year, nine of the 24 teams (37%) playing will have kits manufactured by the German sports giant, compared to Nike’s six (25%), Puma’s five (21%) and four (17%) being shared among other suppliers. Not only have Adidas been the number one kit supplier since Euro 96, but they have also been the kit supplier to every winning team (five) since that tournament. This has only helped to cement Adidas’ position as football’s top brand.

The estimated value of the brand’s top player endorsements at the Championships this year will include France’s Paul Pogba (+R67m), Wales’ Gareth Bale (+R67m) and Germany’s Mesut Özil (+R50m), while Nike’s catalogue of superstars includes the likes of Portugal’s three time Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo (+R319m), England’s Wayne Rooney (+R50m) and Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimović (+R25m).

Today, during major sporting events, social media and digital activation are as relevant to Nike and Adidas as the number of national kits both brands manufacture for teams and the exposure the top endorsements provide in the fight for supremacy.

Ahead of the tournament, Nike’s social media numbers dwarf those of Adidas. On Twitter, Adidas’ 2.9m football and soccer followers are outnumbered by Nike’s 4.6m whilst on Facebook, the gulf is even larger with Nike Football’s page enjoying over 42.2m followers, compared to Adidas’s 21.8m. With almost double the followership of Adidas, Nike reigns supreme in terms of the numbers. But in terms of engaging with fans, size may not be everything.

Kelvin Watt, Chairman of Repucom Africa, said: “The true measure of whether Nike or Adidas is winning the battle of the brands online will be seen much closer to the kick off of Euro 2016. In general, fan engagement starts to build as little as 48 hours before the event, in this case the start of the tournament. For brands to maximise their organic reach and to optimise their media spends, this is the time to activate Hero content.

“As we saw during the 2015 Rugby World Cup, using this strategy allowed Beats By Dre to generate almost eight times the social media value than a more well-established rugby sponsor like Guinness. Beats’ activation around the opening game led to 50m views, compared to Guinness’ 13m; something both Nike and Adidas will be looking to and waiting for as the opening game draws closer.”

Adidas’ Facebook followership has grown twice as fast as that of Nike in 2016 with much higher engagement rates driven largely by its content. Adidas has on average posted four page posts per week in 2016 with 67% of which being videos and 33% photos. This compares to Nike’s three posts per week in the same period where 93% are photos.

Kelvin Watt continues: “Video content delivers much higher engagement rates. What will be interesting is to see is how the two utilise platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat to engage audiences and drive brand awareness and affinity in the opening stages of the tournament and beyond.”


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