CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- As the World Cup kicks off today, Nike has once again proven that marketers don't necessarily have to plunk down big bucks for official sponsorship rights in order to score the most buzz at a major event.
A Nielsen study of blogs, message boards and social-networking sites found that Nike scored twice as many English-language mentions in relation to the World Cup as the second-most discussed brand, Adidas.
And Adidas wasn't the only FIFA partner to see itself outbuzzed by a key rival. Carlsberg beer was the No. 6 most discussed brand, outpacing official FIFA partner Budweiser, which didn't crack the top 10.
Both Nike and Carlsberg successfully wielded viral-video campaigns to drive their chatter: Nike's epic "Write the Future" spot drew more than 22 million views, and Carlsberg's "Team Talk" ad, largely focused on its sponsorship of the English team, drew more than one million.
Pepsi (No. 8) and Panasonic (No. 10) also placed in the top 10, although they landed behind their official-sponsor competitors Coca-Cola (No. 3) and Sony (No. 4).
"This study shows that compelling, savvy marketing can establish this sort of connection in the eyes of consumers without having to write that expensive sponsorship check," said Pete Blackshaw, exec VP-digital strategy at Nielsen.
Still, in most cases, sponsors were getting their money's worth: Four of the top five, and five of the top seven buzziest brands around the World Cup were official partners. Coca-Cola, which is running a highly integrated global campaign using soccer celebrations as the expression of its "Open Happiness" brand platform, scored five times as many mentions as Pepsi.
And Visa managed 15 times more mentions than Mastercard.
Here's the data:
HIGHEST SHARE OF ONLINE PRE-WORLD CUP BUZZ*(Sponsors vs. Competitors)
|Brand||Type||% Share of Official and Competitor Buzz*|
|7||McDonalds's||FIFA World Cup Sponsor||2.8%|
|Source: The Nielsen Company
*Share of online buzz across the 10 sponsors/partners with a global footprint and two of their major competitors in English language messages related to the World Cup from May 7 - June 6, 2010.