Marketing shorts

Dr Constantino Stavros

Posted: July 3, 2014

My fascination for World Cup fashion usually extends to the playing shirt of each team. Every four years I am intrigued to see how kit sponsors will go about tweaking the design in order to maximize the marketing effect.

The 2014 version for me however is as much about the shorts so far. There appears to be a fascination with white this tournament amongst some of the major nations. Both Germany and Argentina who normally look resplendent in black shorts are sporting white in their default “home” strip. Colombia who typically prefer blue shorts have opted for white this time around and Brazil, who are famous for their blue shorts (although I still prefer the lighter blue of decades ago) played in white shorts in their final group game against Cameroon and again in their round of 16 match against Chile, despite being the designated home team thanks to (I presume) winning their group. I suspect this is all some desire to have teams feature a distinct “light” strip and “dark” strip, which seems somewhat over-the-top unless there is an obvious clash.

The standout design of the remaining eight teams, in my opinion, is that of Belgium’s all black alternate strip that features a diagonal band of red and yellow. The Belgian design is especially interesting in that the kit supplier is Burrda Sport, a Swiss based company founded in 2007 who must be relishing the global exposure. Italian sportswear firm Lotto must also be licking their marketing lips at the progress of Costa Rica, who they support.

The remaining six teams are spread across powerhouse apparel brands Nike and Adidas. The Swoosh boasts Brazil, the Netherlands and France in the final 8, whilst the Three Stripes have Germany, Argentina and Colombia. That, rather fortuitously, has worked out in such a way that each of the quarter-finals features branding battles, with a Nike versus Adidas final (as it was in 2010) a possibility. Extremely keen marketing viewers of that otherwise dreary final, might have noticed that as Spain’s Andrés Iniesta, scored the winning goal the rotating advertising display at the stadium was coincidentally featuring their sponsor Adidas, making it a doubly magical moment for the winning marketers. Spain also managed to slip on their traditional red shirts to accept the trophy, having played the final in their alternate dark blue shirt.

Puma, which outfitted 2006 winners Italy, have not had a lot of luck with playing strips this tournament, with Switzerland, Algeria, Chile and Uruguay all eliminated in the round of 16, while Cameroon, Italy, Ghana and Ivory Coast did not progress past the group stage.  Puma however must be happy with their coloured boots strategy, which features a design that has the right shoe in pink and the left shoe in a blue. While the modern boot trend has been towards highly fluorescent yellow and orange designs, the alternate coloured boot approach has been highly visible and has created some buzz.

About Dr Constantino Stavros

Dr Constantino Stavros is Associate Professor, Marketing at RMIT University in Australia. He is an expert in the marketing of, and through, sport.