Who Won This Year’s Advertising World Cup?


From Shakira’s Waka Waka to Pitbull’s One World, we’ve all made comparisons between performances, games or brands during the FIFA World Cup™. Even if the final results are clear and have been mourned or celebrated by everyone already, we all still ask ourselves, which was the best performance? The best game? And even maybe… the best ads? Was the endless battle between the American and German brands, Nike and Adidas, also conquered by the Europeans?

We might have solved the riddle with our study in which we compared Nike’s and Adidas’ 2014 FIFA World Cup™ video advertising campaigns. How? By using webcams to identify, through eye tracking and facial coding, which elements of the commercials generated more engagement with its viewers.

With the collaboration of the digital data collection provider Research Now, which managed to recruit 150 members of its online panel (aged 18+) in the UK to watch the videos, we were able to start digging for the encrypted answers. With the respondent’s permission, we tracked their eye movements and measured their facial expressions through their own webcams.

For analyzing the results, we used an algorithm to divide the facial expressions into seven categories: happiness, surprise, confusion, anger, fear, disgust and neutrality; which were later on classified into positive, negative and neutral expressions.

Nike vs. Adidas: Who won?

The respondents showed negative emotions at the beginning of both commercials, since the players in both ads transmitted pressure throughout the video. Nonetheless, the advertiser’s mission in these cases was to produce emotions related to pressure.




However, Nike succeeded to transform these feelings into positive ones. A striking feature is that the Nike TV commercial especially plays with implicit elements. Their ad, ‘Risk Everything’, builds up the tension gradually and during its climax, when the players hear the excited crowd rooting for them, the commercial generates two times more engagement than Adidas’ commercial,‘The Dream’.


The former ad starts strongly and during the first eight seconds of the clip, the nightmare of Messi generates more emotional involvement. Nevertheless, the Nike ad surpasses it right after the scene, which presents Cristiano Ronaldo (and no, they didn’t only measure women’s emotional engagement).

In numbers:

  • Respondents expressed a 12% more positive evaluation of Nike’s “Risk Everything” ad, when compared to Adidas’ “The Dream” ad.
  • Results showed that just over one third (34%) of respondents would share the “Risk Everything” ad, whereas only 28% would share “The Dream”.
  • The Nike ad showed a nearly 40% higher share per view ratio, which is generally driven by the emotional engagement of the viewer.



So, the Americans won this battle! Apparently the strategy to engage most viewers is to generate tension, use implicit elements…. and show Christiano Ronaldo, of course!

Let’s see what the Germans will bring for us next time. In the meanwhile, why don’t you share with us what you think about the results? Check out the campaign videos and tell us what you think about the outcomes of the Nike vs. Adidas study case.