Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Learning from Soccer: 'Official' verus 'Unofficial' Partnerships

The Worldcup Soccer frenzy is bringing a new dimension to the theme of partnerships. We all know there are 'official' sponsors that pay literally millions of dollars to promote and be associated with big sports events such as Olympics and Soccer.

So, what does the World Cup 2006 bring? Well for a start: The FIFA World Cup official website is sponsored by Yahoo. I do not how much they paid for the sponsorship but I imagine it is significant. The official footwear sponsor is Adidas (not surprising since the event is held in Germany!). You can even personalize the wesbite by 'selecting your favorite team.' Yahoo has also created a toolbar for Internet Explorer. And needless to say: you can get live updates on your mobile phone.

So, what makes this interesting from a partnership point of view? It's not the official
list of sponsors, which is impressive (Gillette, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Telekom, Master Card, McDonald's and others). It is how the non-sponsors are jockeying to create websites to allow the fans to create experiences that take advantages of some of the new functionality of web 2.0. Look at what Nike and Google are creating with Joga. The website indicates:
"Joga is a place to meet other soccer players, share your own soccer experiences and enjoy photos and videos from around the world."
Joga is an online community created by Google and Nike for anyone anywhere in the world who shares a love for soccer, the world's most popular sport. Joga is about getting to know your fellow fans; creating games and clubs; accessing athletes from Nike; and enjoying video clips and photos (you can even upload your own). You can strengthen existing friendships and begin new ones, join a wide variety of professional athletes and soccer communities, and even create your own to discuss soccer, exchange tips on the coolest moves, browse through various pitches worldwide, and plan your next game.

But most of all, Joga is about "Joga Bonito" -- Portuguese for "play beautiful." Are you ready to start down the path of soccer bliss? Join us, and show the world what playing beautiful means to you
It's worth watching how much fans embrace the unofficial Joga site (by uploading content and creating social network connections with other fans with the same favorite team or opposing teams) as opposed to the official FIFA Site. If fans indeed embrace Joga, will Nike stop spending millions of dollars on sponsored advertising and develop new robust advertising models linked to Google?

This is clearly a contest between Adidas and Nike for capturing the mind of the soccer fans for their products (footwear and clothes). It is equally a contest between Google and Yahoo.

Beyond soccer, it is a contest between official sponsorship and unofficial sponsorship--both aimed at co-opting the fans in co-creating the content and delivering a personalized online experience on the network using multiple channels.

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