18 June 2010

Nike versus Adidas (or YouTube versus BoobTube) at FIFA

There are many who still think social media is a passing fad at best, a kids playground at worst. Nike is not one of them.

The reigning sponsor in soccer is Adidas. To maintain this status, the company purchased the greatest sanctioned presence at this month’s FIFA World Cup for $200 M. Up-and-comer rival, Nike, did not take this lying down. In fact they fought back.

What Nike didn't do is every bit as important as what they did do. They didn't purchase expensive TV ad space. Nor did they rent a led zeppelin. Rather, Nike created a video - a very creative commercial - and posted it on YouTube.

The Nike video, Write the Future, was released on May 17 and went viral in just 10 days. With close to 16 M views to date, it has been lauded as the company's best creative work in soccer.

The folks at Adidas responded with a Star Wars Cantina video on June 12. This video has only 3.5 M views to date - definitely the creative weakling of the two - which is still not bad when considering the placement cost: Free.

Clearly Nike is the big winner with far better creative (no doubt planned well in advance), 16 M free views of their commercial, and no $200 M invoice to pay. Plus, they look like innovators, despite the closing claim of the Adidas video.

The take-away is so obvious it pains those of us who still try to convince our companies of the ROI of social media. Not only is YouTube a legitimate and cost-effective tool for marketers, it may soon displace the "boob tube" (hopefully I'm not the only one who remembers this expression) as the holy grail for advertisers.