Taking social seriously: the real World Cup winners

Germany World CupMost tweeted, most memed, most watched on two or even three screens, most ripped to YouTube, the list of mosts goes on and on for social sharing and interaction in the World Cup (can we say World Cup now it’s over without fear of litigation? Hope so).

In any game of football there are winners and losers and those that got a right beating (sorry David Luiz but I’m sure your salary at PSG will make up for the tears). So who won on social media channels this time around?

Interestingly, the battle of the brands from an integrated marketing point of view has already been much debated in and out of marketing circles due to the sheer scale and expectation from Nike and Adidas.

Adidas’ huge investment in official endorsement and the weight of exposure that deal brings is testament to its Germanic approach of strong organisation on the battlefield – a prolonged siege by a formidable foe. Nike’s more agile, non-endorsed, non-official ambush approach is perfect for their challenger status. But to this pundit, although I thought their House Game advert was a pile of tosh, worse than a Mars Bar advert in fact, Adidas ultimately won out. More boots on more (winners) feet. Both finalist nations, the golden ball, golden glove and golden boot players. The ball itself, the officials, the highest scoring boot and a deal that extends for another 16 years mean that Adidas have reaped their investment rewards.

If we talk in terms of reactive social commentary, both Adidas and Nike took teams of staffers and agencies to Brazil to create boiler rooms. Streamlining the creative process and, more importantly, the approval process to ensure content was posted in the moment to allow them to get into conversations. Like it or not the Brazuca (the Adidas World Cup match ball, where have you been?) Twitter account gained 2.98m followers whilst the World Cup was taking place. The account is cringe-worthy in its conversations with players but you can’t knock 0-3.5m followers in no time at all.

As for Nike, equally impressive numbers on social that would ordinarily crush mere mortal opponents into the lush green Maracana turf. Brazil’s team didn’t help them out at all with a 7-1 spanking by The Fatherland in the semi final. Not a lot you can say as a brand when your prize asset has been on the end of such a humiliating defeat. Neymar Jr’s injury was another blow, Rooney and Iniesta on an early plane home and Ribery and Ibrahimovic not even making it meant that some key assets around whom their content was developed were not there to maximise the exposure. That’s football I’m afraid.

So, who else won? Well if we look at who else created some clever reactive content the usual suspects are there. Paddy Power up to its old tricks with controversial deforestation campaigns and hilarious Neymar 7Up tweets endorsed what we already knew about the brand-inflammatory, cheeky and sharp as an Italian defenders elbow. Luis Suarez’s not very high fall from not very much grace (and I’m writing this as a Liverpool fan) created fodder (pun intended) for the likes of Nandos, Aldi and Snickers, and created some well publicised embarrassment for Adidas.

However, the real winners were Fifa and us fans. Fifa because its official digital platforms created access for 1bn (yes) fans globally with 40bn (yes, I know) impressions of their content, and their app become the most downloaded sports app ever with over 28m downloads.

And the fans because we and the players, pundits, commentators all became content creators and no matter what the official sponsors provided, no matter who tried hijacking or band-wagoning the tournament, the real stuff was better. Tim Cahill’s face watching the semi final, the memes after Van Persie’s flying header, the vine of Lucas Podolski actually saving his young son’s penalty (and said son and heir’s furious reaction). This is the gold dust, the stuff brands can’t do.

Matt Bennett is founder and creative partner of Wolfpack