2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi, Football, Sport, Super Eagles, Victor Moses

Russia 2018: Brands winning the World Cup shine

Nigeria's midfielder Victor Moses (C) and Czech Republic's Vladimir Coufal (R) vie for the ball during the international friendly football match between Nigeria and Czech Republic in Rannersdorf, Austria on June 6, 2018.<br />VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP

Pictures of hundreds of fans queueing in London last week to purchase the new Nigeria national team jerseys at Nike Town has cemented a place for the US-based kit maker as the winner of this year’s World Cup brand competition. Four years ago, Nike was national team outsiders and their plan to ambush the Eagles through players’ footwear contracts ensured that all the three goals scored by the Super Eagles at Brazil 2014 were made with their boots despite Adidas being the official kit suppliers of the team.

This year, through adept marketing and the production of an acclaimed retro apparel collection, Nigeria’s jerseys have caught the global imagination and the company is already smiling to the bank over the frenzy it has caused in the marketplace. Unlike the dour sales experienced by Adidas at its stores in 2014, Nike’s Eagles jerseys have become the most fashionable clothing item to own during this World Cup year with expensive originals being as popular, if not more than, cheaper knockoffs. It begs the question, was Adidas too relaxed or largely unimaginative during its Nigeria contract?

The World Cup is always a major spending opportunity for brands. Many of the brands that are associated with the Super Eagles have been working hard to ensure they leave a memorable impression during the World Cup. This has been one of the best for the national team in terms of marketing as several top brands have pitched to become official partners. This has ensured that the Nigeria Football Federation has run one of the most independent campaigns in its history without waiting for government funds to execute the tournament.

Coca-Cola, official partners of the NFF and sponsors of the Super Eagles, have run campaigns around the tournament like the World Cup Trophy Tour (part of its global partnership with FIFA) that took place in March as well as a “To Russia with Coke” campaign where several Nigeria fans have won all-expenses-paid trips. Through their engagement, the beverage company has shown an adept understanding of sports sponsorship on its return to domestic football years after calling off of its title sponsorship of the Nigerian FA Cup. The company has also added William Ekong as a Coca-Cola brand ambassador with the defender appearing in a TVC.

Through social media, Coca-Cola has been creating digital content using the #ShareACokeWithOurSuperEagles hashtag. They have also created engaging pieces of content profiling the players as well as match day content for the recent friendly games against DR Congo, England and the Czech Republic.

However, Pepsi-Cola has jumped in to take some shine off through its signing of Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa and Shehu Abdullahi as brand ambassadors and their appearance in the soaraway success TVC titled Naija All The Way. Using its collection of music star ambassadors like Wizkid, Davido and Tiwa Savage, among others and Nigerian legend Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, Pepsi’s catchy ad, set to an inspirational Afrobeats tune, has shown the ability of brands to gatecrash the World Cup party without infringing on rights ownership.

In the alcoholic beverage market, Star Lager’s “Shine On Nigeria” campaign has not been as evocative as it was in 2014 when the brand crashed Guinness’ party. At that time, Guinness was the official beer partner of the Super Eagles but Star Lager worked to create a stronger impression on the market with its inspirational hashtag #ShineOnNigeria. Perhaps the creativity in the Star campaign this year has been slowed by the reduced amount of funds available for a marketing campaign after shelling out billions to win official partnership with the Eagles.

Budweiser, new entrants into the Nigerian market, are official FIFA sponsors but lost out on the Super Eagles account to Star. They have not remained quiet, however, as they launched their global “Light up the World Cup” campaign last month. They have deployed their local strategy into making Trophy Lager Beer, another brand on the AB InBev stable, the main beneficiary of their World Cup affiliation.

Trophy Lager launched its “Raise a Trophy” campaign fronted by Nollywood star Femi Adebayo and is tipping Nigeria to raise the trophy in Russia. Also borrowing the 2008 Barack Obama campaign slogan “Yes We Can”, Trophy Lager has been running a Belief-O-Metre engagement on its digital channels.

Individually, some of the Super Eagles players have been making hay ahead of the World Cup. Electronics company, LG unveiled Alex Iwobi as its brand ambassador in May. The youngster follows in the footsteps of his illustrious uncle ‘Jay Jay’ in endorsing the brand for a two-year contract that is believed to be worth about $250,000 (90million Naira). Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel was recently announced as ambassador by Kwese TV while defender Ekong also inked a deal with Swiss luxury watchmaker, TAG Heuer.

While many brands associated with the Super Eagles have been rolling out their campaigns, it has been a very quiet period for other major sponsors like Aiteo, the company that first believed in the NFF despite its early crisis. Aiteo is not spending much on an advertising campaign during the World Cup having exerted itself over the last year with title sponsorship of the Federation Cup and the CAF Awards. Globacom has thrown in a new pan-African TVC while Peak Milk also chimed in with a campaign fronted by its Powerlifting brand ambassadors.