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What: World Cup activations and partnerships have begun as the tournament kicked off last weekend.
Why it matters: Companies are leveraging stars like Lionel Messi and Ronaldo while soccer interest is highest globally.

We will certainly see more brands looking to grab viral opportunities and ride the wave of success as the FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupplays out. Here is a look at some of the early partnerships announced as we enter the first full week of group play.

Kellogg’s Serves Soccer: Taking advantage of the early start times on the East Coast of the U.S., Kellogg’s (@KelloggsUS ‏) NYC Café teamed with Eat Soccer (@EatSoccerTV), a soccer lifestyle agency, for a Morning Match breakfast experience. The event kicked off on June 15 for the Egypt vs. Uruguay match at 8 a.m., and continues on weekdays through Friday. The store will feature multiple TVs broadcasting the games, as well as what Kellogg’s described as an “immersive kitchen.” The café will open an Instagram-friendly nook with lighting, props and different angles for visitors to snap photos in their soccer jerseys.

Fans can reserve a spot with $20-tickets offering unlimited access to Kellogg’s cereal bar, milk, coffee and tea. The café will have more than 30 ingredients, including rum-roasted bananas and marshmallows, on hand for the event.

In a series of immersive videos, viewers are shown a playful side of Messi and local social media influencers as they share a series of unexpected moments.

Messi’s Mark: Before Saturday’s penalty miss against Iceland, Ooredoo (@ooredooand Lionel Messi teamed up for a new campaign. In a series of immersive videos, viewers are shown a playful side of Messi and local social media influencers as they share a series of unexpected moments.

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China Activation:  FIFA partner Dalian Wanda (@DalianWandareleased a new short film that tells the story of a group of young Chinese footballers who will be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Russia. The film documents a group from Wanda’s “Rising Stars” program who will have the opportunity to step onto the pitch at the World Cup as one of the official World Cup flag bearers. The players carried the official FIFA flag onto the pitch during Spain vs. Portugal on Friday and Belgium vs. Panama on Monday.

Sleeping with Ronaldo: Cristiano Ronaldo was announced as a brand ambassador for SleepScore (@SleepScore). The move comes after SleepScore, which specializes in sleep measurement and improvement, launched a new mobile app, which Ronaldo will help promote.

Picture This: Vivo, the official smartphone sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup has launched its music and photography marketing activations for fans, empowering them to be more than just part of an audience, under its global campaign titled, “My Time, My FIFA World Cup™”, which comprises Vivo’s Super Time project and Vivo Super Fan photographer program. It calls upon fans to make this tournament one to remember, to be truly extraordinary and fully experience, capture and share extraordinary moments around them through their smartphones.

Cover Image: Ooredoo

What: Forbes has issued its annual Top 100 Highest Paid Athletes list, with a record of 17 Latinos earning mention.
Why it matters: The earning power of Latinos worldwide is stronger than ever, with opportunities for these athletes, whether primarily English or Spanish speaking, continues to increase.

This past week Forbes (@Forbescame out with its annual list of the Top 100 Highest Paid athletes in the past year, and for brands looking to engage Latino athletes, the news is stronger than ever.

Of the 100, 17 are Latino, the highest amount ever on the list, with sports ranging from soccer and basketball to boxing and auto racing. Their appeal is global, and their brand resonance and the loyalty of their followers is higher than most athletes on the list.

Forbes’ earnings figures for the list included all prize money, salaries, and bonuses earned between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018. In the case of baseball players, the listed salary will include salary from the 2017 and 2018 seasons, as well as any signing, award or playoff bonuses.

Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income for the 12 months through June 1 based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders. The golfers’ income includes course design work. Forbes does not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees, and does not include investment income. The list includes athletes active at any point during the last 12 months.

Now you see more young kids with Barcelona jerseys than Knicks jerseys sometimes.

While Americans naturally dominated the list with 65 athletes thanks to the sky-high salaries in the major U.S. sports leagues, The Dominican Republic and Spain had three athletes each, while Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela all have two.

The world’s elite soccer players, Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar are all top five earners, and with World Cup in the horizon, their brand value will continue to rise. Other soccer stars on the list include Oscar (at 56), Luis Suarez (60), and Sergio Aguero (86). Three MLB stars with deep Latino roots, Miguel Cabrera (54), Yoenis Cespedes (71), Felix Hernandez (63) and Albert Pujols (49) are there, along with NBA players Al Horford (51), Brook Lopez (95), Carmelo Anthony (38) and Marc Gasol (84).

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Boxer Canelo Alvarez (US $44.5 million) was a big mover up the list. Alvarez jumped 28 spots to 15, while tennis star Rafa Nadal was again among that sport’s elite.

Messi (credit: Wikimedia/Oemar)

“We are in a time now where I think the global success of athletes is becoming clearer, especially due to social media and philanthropy,” said Harrie Bakst, co-founder of Weinstein Carnegie (@wcpgco), a firm which specializes in cause marketing around athletes and celebrities, including Pele’s foundation. “There was a time when you would walk the streets of New York or Chicago and mention a global soccer star like Messi and people would not know who he was. Now you see more young kids with Barcelona jerseys than Knicks jerseys sometimes. The language, especially Spanish, is less of a barrier and that’s great news for the athletes, brands, and sports in general. The opportunity is only going to get bigger.”

The list is a great reflection of what the marketplace is seeing, that ROI for brands no longer has to be hyper-local, if athletes are engaged they can create demand around the globe, and with the rise of Latino buying power in North America, their athletes, whether they are English or Spanish language first, are becoming more and more of a force in the business world.

Cover image: Keith Allison

What: The reaction over its Messi sponsorship sets off alarm bells for Adidas.
Why it matters: Because marketing analysts warn that although the German brand sponsors one of the two best soccer players in the world, it has failed to capitalize on that relationship, resulting in ineffective promotion strategies.

When Adidas renewed its sponsorship deal with Leonel Messi, the German multinational began to hear warnings that the famous FC Barcelona player – one of the best in the world – is identified by fans as being sponsored by its competitor Nike, the Barcelona club’s sponsor.

adidas-messi-patrocinioMarketing experts argue that the German brand lacks an effective strategy to take advantage of its relationship with the Argentine player. However, it will remain its technical sponsor over the next few years based on a multi-year agreement whose terms – both financial and duration – have not been revealed.

Neither does Adidas seem to want to comment publicly on fans confusing Messi’s sponsor with Nike. The company’s relationship with Messi goes back many years and will continue for many more, according to comments made by the Argentine player.

Nevertheless, recent results published by the Barómetro del Patrocinio Deportivo 2016 (2016 Sports Sponsorship Barometer), an interesting survey carried out by the Asociación de Marketing de España and the ESADE International School of Business, which is considered an X-ray of sports marketing in Spain, warns of a Adidas-Messi-Nike conflict.

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The report sets forth a comparative study on fan identification of the main sponsoring firms within Spain’s soccer world, detailing the clubs and players they represent and sponsor, and as such is considered a reflection of the success or failure of brands’ strategies to activate their relationship with their sponsorees.

barometro-messiAccording to the study, based on a Sponsorship Association Index of 100 points, the brand association between Messi and Nike received 71.1 points in the minds of fans, who clearly identify him as Barcelona player. Meanwhile, fans’ association of Messi with Adidas only received 50.81 points.

The opposite happened with Nike and Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo. According to the survey, the activation strategies of the U.S. company are more successful among fans than those of Adidas with Messi.

Nike received an Association Index of 72 points with Cristiano Ronaldo, whereas the association of Cristiano Ronaldo with the Adidas brand only garnered 63.03 points.