The recent 2014 FIFA World Cup offered spectacular opportunities for companies to get creative with their social media campaigns and promote their brand during a worldwide event. Marketing gurus agree that several brands stood out head-and-shoulders above the rest, distinguishing themselves and solidifying brand awareness through clever social media campaigns. But what did they do right? And what can marketers learn from them?

Let’s take a look at three brands that used social media marketing and world events to score big.


Nike’s Social Media Marketing Success

Presence was more important than status when it came to marketing video campaigns surrounding the World Cup. While not an official sponsor of the tournament, Nike surpassed Adidas as the most-viewed brand of the World Cup. According to Visible Measures, the company produced eight campaigns that generated a total of 240.6 million views.

Nike’s campaigns successfully dominated other branded related videos during the World Cup. Out of the 97 total campaigns, branded videos pulled in 671.6 million views throughout the event. Nike’s campaigns accounted for 35 percent of those views. While the average marketing campaign brought in 6.9 million views, Nike’s “Risk Everything” campaign brought in 122.2 million views and “The Last Game” brought in 97.1 million – becoming the two most viewed campaigns.

There are a few possible reasons why Nike’s campaigns may have done so well this year. Perhaps the commercials outperformed Adidas’ because they featured the biggest soccer stars of the World Cup, like Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, David Luiz and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Something that Nike did differently than other companies during the World Cup is that rather than trying to sell merchandise in every commercial, the brand focused its attention on selling the tournament as a worldwide event. The lengthy commercials, sometimes running as long as five minutes, gave a preview of the action the world could expect to see during the month-long tournament – the marketing campaigns showcased a sport, rather than a product. After all, Nike didn’t have to do too much work to promote the brand as it already enjoys the title of being the No. 1 apparel and footwear company in the world.


Samsung Goes Viral with Aliens & Football 

Samsung showed remarkable creativity through a 10-month, soccer-themed marketing campaign to promote its line of Galaxy devices. A series of science fiction-themed videos revolved around a soccer match between the “Galaxy 11” team of the world’s best pros (such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Gotze, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney) and a team of alien invaders.  In the videos, the Galaxy 11 team uses the Samsung devices and technology (which includes fitness tracking devices) to train and defeat their rivals.

The video campaign went wildly viral, garnering more than 150 million views and 4.7 million engagements across social media channels. Samsung also reported 5 million visits to the campaign’s website. This was a success for the company, which previously relied on TV-based campaigns for 30 to 40 percent of their marketing.

Besides Nike, Samsung was the most viewed brand during the World Cup tournament. The South Korean company focused its’ marketing campaign on social media, and gave itself plenty of time to build up a following – which is one of the reasons why the campaigns were so successful. Samsung began publicizing the highly effective “Galaxy 11” video in November. From December to May, the long-form storytelling campaign racked up 38.2 million views, giving it a head start on the competition.


Adidas Gives a Ball a Twitter Account

Adidas also scored big. Simply Measured reported that the World Cup sponsor accumulated 5.8 million followers on their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ and YouTube accounts for global and World Cup-specific accounts. The Twitter following of @brazuca, the official Adidas match ball of the World Cup, grew by 603 percent over the duration of the World Cup, resulting in 2.98 million followers.

Research from Sysomos also claims that Adidas racked up 1.59 million mentions across social media platforms during the World Cup. The majority of the mentions included the brand’s #allin hashtag. Even more exciting for Adidas was the sales of the brazucas: Adidas will exceed its target and sell over 14 million brazucas worldwide this year.

Ernesto Bruce, Adidas America’s director of soccer, was thrilled with this news. “Our U.S. goal was to have around a 15-percent growth from the last World Cup. We are doubling that with over 30-percent growth on the brazuca. It’s a huge highlight for us,” he said.

Bruce reported that Adidas is currently looking to build and expand on the momentum that the company enjoyed during the World Cup. As it so happens, one of their focuses is next year’s Women’s World Cup.

As an official sponsor of the World Cup it’s no surprise that Adidas had so much success. The brand sponsored some of the tournament’s top players, like Lionel Messi, James Rodriguez and Manuel Neuer. History may be another reason why Adidas enjoyed so much success. The brand has provided the match ball for every game since 1970, which could explain how the company was able to sell more than 14 million brazucas.

How Brands Can Succeed During the Next World Event

Companies like Adidas that have shifted the focus toward the next worldwide event can employ several tactics. Brands that utilize real-time marketing can make a huge splash during the event. Oreo Cookie showed one of the original examples of this tactic, thanks to their timely Tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl power outage.

This year, McDonald’s capitalized on this real-time strategy during the World Cup by Tweeting an invitation to Luis Suarez to take a bite out of a Big Mac (after he bit an opposing player on the field). The post was retweeted 78,000 times.

Some companies are a little more meticulous and practice what is known as “scenario planning,” in which they consider possible outcomes to an event. Others simply have a quick-thinking social media team in place to respond to unplanned events.

Even the most spontaneous marketing team should put some parameters in place ahead of a big event. A little bit of planning can go a long way.


By Jennifer Thayer

Jennifer is a technology writer who is passionate about covering the latest news, fun gadgets and helpful apps. Follow her on Twitter to see what tips and tricks she has to offer next.