Sportswear Brands Exploit World Cup Fervor to Pitch Products

By Anna Sekula June 21, 2010, 2:02 PM EDT

Havaianas World Cup Promotion Nike World Cup Viewing Party PlayBeautiful Pop-Up Stadium Puma City New York
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As the FIFA World Cup draws crowds of soccer fans to restaurants and bars around New York for a month of enthusiastic game-watching, sportswear companies are staying ahead of the game by partnering with drinking and dining establishments or building viewing sites of their own, and putting their messaging front and center. For these retailers, which aren't official sponsors of the tournament, the proactive tactics provide direct contact with consumers and an opportune time to sell branded goods.

Ranging in size and scope, the activations are largely situated in downtown neighborhoods. Puma's is perhaps the biggest, taking over the South Street Seaport's traffic-free square for Puma City, a concept targeting tourists and Wall Street workers with a range of activities. Competitor Nike's platform is Nike Stadium, an experiential environment on the Bowery to house soccer-related programs and art for the summer. The multinational sportswear brand also made a play for attention last weekend with a viewing party of the match between England and the U.S. for 2,000 revelers in the meatpacking district's Gansevoort Plaza.

Elsewhere, Havaianas seized the opportunity to expand its presence in the U.S. by taking a collection of sandals styled after the colors of the World Cup's participating teams to local bars in SoHo and Brooklyn, while Upper West Side store Upper 90 Soccer & Sport joined forces with Openhouse Gallery and community soccer network Football Partnerships to create a free site for viewings, soccer demonstrations, and appearances by the New York Red Bulls.

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