Everyone's a winner: the Brazilian hosts, Löw's squad and German industry!

Mr Ulrich Keller

Posted: July 11, 2014

Two more matches and the 2014 World Cup comes to an end. As Colombia lost their quarterfinal to Brazil, her fans turned to support the German squad in their epic Semi-Final clash against the Brazilian hosts. Brazil lost to Germany; the Netherlands to Argentina. The stage is set: Germany meets Argentina in the final.

And even Nike-wearing Brazilians will support Germany (and Adidas). But why? Is it because they’d rather see a European winner on Latin soil than their Argentinean neighbour? Definitely. Is it because football (soccer) unites the world? Absolutely. But there’s more.

The historic 7-1 German victory over Brazil. 7-1. Unbelievable. No excessive, or even ridiculously exaggerated goal-scoring German celebration. Since when are Germans humble? Team work above all. Selfishness is banned. They have internalized classic German virtues: loyalty, pride and determination. German psyche seems mentally set to succeed and win. Die Mannschaft is an emotional machine. An impossible contradiction? No, because the young German squad adds a new German virtue: passion and joy of playing.

Passionate Germans on the pitch, passionate Brazilians in the stands. Once the shock had settled, they ‘supported’ the German team and the sexy football they play. Respect – what a host. Millions witnessed Clovis Acosta Fernandes, the saddest man in Brazil, holding his World Cup trophy replica in his arms – as if it was his little baby. In 2002 Germany lost the final 2-0 to Brazil. Fernandes was there. Times change. Glory and greatness remain forever: 5-0, tears run down Fernandes’ face; 7-1 and the saddest man in Brazil demonstrates greatness, smiles and hands his trophy over to a German fan.

See the following link for further evidence:

“Since 2006 we know how painful it is to lose a Semi-Final in their own country. We wish the best for the future for you.”

People do not change. Or is it likely that the creative, bright and beautiful (CBB) game changes people and their perceptions about host-nation citizens and state? Brazil is the country of samba and football, her inhabitants are friendly, the women are beautiful, the country is poor, and its culture and heritage are rich. Germans are rude, they love David Hasselhoff, beer and sausages, are efficient and hardworking, punctual, strict, cold and reserved, and, most importantly, have zero sense of humour and are very unromantic. Yes, we love beer and sausages. But there seems to be more. A different dynamic seems to be activated when individuals experience the world’s largest sporting tournament, either live on site, or at home. This dynamic seems to cast a positive shadow on the host nation, but also on teams that play and host passionately.

Germany hosted the 2006 FIFA World Cup and managed to rebrand itself entirely. Nation brand building at its finest. Marketing at the finest. Billions of Euro well spent. Short-term destination building with long-term effects. The obvious ad hoc increase in international leisure and business tourism was converted into a still-lasting country-advantage: visitors experienced ‘newfound’ German hospitality and friendliness. An unparalleled image-boosting occurrence that converts visiting individuals into solid nation-brand advocates. We saw it in 2006 and in 2010. We see it now. Brazil hosts, and the world enjoys the Cup as it should be enjoyed. And Germany, as an industrial nation, seems to profit as well.

The disappointment of the Brazilian Semi-Final knock-out could turn into admiration for the winner of the semi, or of the Cup – unless Argentina takes it, of course. Who wins? According to Germany’s economic wise men and the Federation of German Industries (BDI), at the very least the German economy and virtually all of its internationally operating industries. Why? Because Germany desires to become a key and innovative partner for Brazil, especially in terms of country modernization and long-term industrial partnerships. The recent success of the German team could drive Brazilian-German relations: high quality products and services + optimized procedures and production + new, vibrant mind-set = the right basics for a winning combination.

These are dreams of the future. In the present, two Adidas-equipped teams, Germany in her white home jerseys, Argentina in her blue away kit, decide the winner of the 2014 World Cup among themselves. Nike’s Brazil and the Netherlands play-off the ‘little final’ for rank 3. The outcome of the Nike-Adidas battle for football supremacy? Unknown. A quick and exemplary look at the clash of Nike (USA) and Adidas (Germany) shows that Adidas seems to be in the better position in terms of brand and reputation building. The success of the German team seems to shine on its outfitter. This trend seems to occur although various German stars chose Nike shoes over their Adidas counterpart. Germany’s Müller, Schweinsteiger and Klose drive Adidas jersey sales – up to a staggering 8.000.000 of forecasted unit sales.

New York’s Empire State Building shone black-red-golden. Goosebumps. Granted, the Empire State Building honoured Argentina the following day. But the message is clear: this is a true WORLD cup and the world celebrates its finalists. We were privileged enough to witness an emotional journey, with ups and downs, scandals, misunderstandings, and events of which we do not yet understand the gravity and outcome of. Paired with temptation and passion, this World Cup gave the world so much.

There are certain issues that need to be addressed, managed and overcome as the status quo is not acceptable. Fans, companies and nations could get frustrated by the pace of change – but passion-fused love for the game and the special nature of the World Cup could make fans overlook surrounding inadequacies and lead them to enjoy and consume. Individuals will have a changed image, perception and association with and of the respective host-nation. These will positively affect its industry and their products.

Yet, the demonstrated success of the German squad on Brazilian soil is likely to also reinforce strong positive perceptions towards Germany and her industry: country ambush marketing and history in the making!

About Ulrich Keller

Ulrich Keller (MSc and LLM) is a Research Coordinator and Project Manager for a multiparty industrial pricing excellence project. He holds Elite and Excellence degrees and is a Doctoral Candidate. Ulrich’s expertise centers on sports economics, managerial economics, branding, marketing and (dynamic) pricing. He has consulted on various high-profile international pricing, sports and event projects.