With the dream over for England, it's a good time to reflect on how the brands did. Regular readers will know that I'm the first to point out that success doesn't need to come through sponsorship. Spending nearly a hundred million pounds to be associated with each World Cup seems like a lot of cash when you're reluctant to be associated with Russia. Hence, Adidas' ad is shocking for its lack of reference to the event, with not one single official logo to remind viewers that it is an official sponsor.
Instead -- for me, anyway -- Nike's ad was far more compelling. It will also have the last laugh on Sunday when what Campaign refers to as "the money shot" will definitely have players with the Nike swoosh emblazoned on their kit. Belgium was the last Adidas team left in the competition -- knocked out by France a day before England suffered the same fate to Croatia.
Interestingly, Kantar Millward Brown has been researching World Cup ads and scoring them for seven attributes such as recall, brand love, enjoyment and involvement.
You may well have already guessed that Adidas -- and, surprisingly, Nike -- were not top performers. They actually stand out as the poorest performers among the big spenders. I totally get that people wouldn't react well to glitzy Adidas' ad, but I actually quite like the stirring speech given by a kid in a Brazil shirt in Nike's campaign. Maybe it was too Brazilian for us UK viewers and not enough about football in general?
The brands that are doing well are Lidl, Mars and Visa. The latter is, of course, a sponsor -- and has clearly won people over with its humorous campaign showing how the famous Swedish player dubbed "the Zlatan" planned to make it to Moscow and win the World Cup, despite not being selected.
Lidl will stand out for British viewers because the England team sponsor has used the access to players its contract brings so they can be filmed being shown how to roar like a lion and work on their goal celebrations by some cheeky kids. It's interesting because it shows a brand looking for domestic success can go for a cheaper sponsorship option through a partnership with a team rather than handing FIFA many millions of pounds.
The attributes that make an ad a winner are telling a believable football story, tapping into the emotion of the event and capturing the spirit of the competition.
For what it's worth, I thought the best brand activation came from Budweiser. It plastered beer bottles with pictures of the World Cup trophy and repackaged cans in to World Cup souvenir tubes. Russia was in there, but the main focus was the trophy that made you feel a little closer to the event without sucking up, or should that be "supping" up, to Putin. As far as tv ads go, Paddy Power made me laugh the hardest, as usual, with its humorous use of video referee technology.
Those are my favourites, but the research is clear -- success comes from summing up the event by telling a realistic story that taps into our emotions. Hence Lidl's marketing department can look at their spend compared to Adidas and consider they have done very well. Nike will no doubt be affording itself a wry smile as it blasts congratulatory messages to the winner with a picture bearing their swoosh.
This must all leave Adidas with some serious questions over the value of sponsoring a corrupt organisation holding its showpiece event in Russia and then Qatar.