The World Cup ended last Sunday with Germany lifting the trophy for a 4th time in team history.  Brazil 2014 was about more than the game taking place on the field, however, as brands from around the globe worked their messages throughout the month-long event.  adidas had the upper hand as a major sponsor of the World Cup but few can argue that Nike is one of the best at getting their message out while Puma, Warrior, Under Armour, Mizuno, Lotto, Under Armour, Uhlsport, Marathon, Joma, Burrda, and Trusox all made their own waves.

But who really won the 2014 World Cup?

adidas and Nike, the main players in this $5 billion a year industry, both hinted that they were the winners.  And it is hard to argue against their positions.

adidas was the kit sponsor for both teams in the final, Germany and Argentina, outfitted the officials, and provided the game ball.  But not so fast.  The Nike Magista Obra on the feet of Mario Goetze powered home the game winning goal.  The goal was first rate and the revolutionary cleats hard to miss as well.

Let’s not forget that the tournament is more than just the final and the battle was just as intense for the other 63 matches.

Soccer cleats are major tool for players.  They are made to improve our speed, control, built for hard tackles and comfort but the game is about scoring goals and adidas and Nike excelled in that category regardless of the fine print of the cleat.

Of the 171 goals, adidas cleats knocked in 79 and Nike cleats added 78.  Puma was a distant 3rd with 8 goals while Warrior and Mizuno cleats added 3 each.  The most lethal cleat was the adidas F50 adiZero (all colorways including the Messi colorway) with 54 goals but the Nike Mercurial silo put in hard-work on the way to 35 goals.

It is hard to argue that adidas did not win the race for the 2014 FIFA Golden Boot, however.  The 3-Stripes wear worn by the winner, Colombia’s James Rodriguez, and 6 of the other top 10 finishers.  Nike was the choice of 53% of the players and the Swoosh will only shake their heads and wonder if entire story could have been different had their top player, Brazil’s Neymar, not been injured in the quarterfinal.  He finished with 4 games despite missing his team’s final 2 matches.

Puma was a distant third in goalscoring but probably took the title for most noticeable cleats.  The high visibility Nike cleats and iconic black-and-white Battle Pack of adidas made statements but the cleats of different colors of the Puma Tricks collection stood out the most.  And the pink cleat and blue cleat combination helped the evoSpeed and evoPower’s stand-out.

Tim Cahill gave Warrior a moment to cheer for.  The Australia forward scored on a nominee for goal of the tournament in his Warrior Superheat cleats.  It was his second goal of the tournament increasing his World Cup tally to 5 and gave him half of all Australia’s World Cup goals.

The battle to sponsor the team kit is just as fierce as the cleat battle.  And for the first time in World Cup history, Nike sponsored more of the final 32 teams than adidas.  The U.S. based company sponsored 10 of the teams.  adidas was in second place with 9 teams followed by Puma with 8, Burrda, Marathon, Uhlsport, and Joma with 1 each.

Jerseys are a big business.  To put it in perspective, adidas and Nike are forecasting to sell 8+ million EACH of their jerseys a 20+% increase for the 2010 World Cup.

The biggest winner of the jersey sponsors was possible Lotto.  The Italian sportswear company have sponsored Costa Rica since 1990.  The Ticos run to the quarterfinal and narrow PK loss to 3rd place finisher the Netherlands has the brand scrambling to keep up with demand.  An impossible task but positions Lotto well when they release the next jersey as the support for the team is at an all-time high.

Trusox may argue whether the cleat is the most important tool for players.  And they will probably add that they got the biggest bang for the buck.  The Maryland based sock company did not sponsor the tournament, teams, or players but the little black squares on the ankles of the players was one of the most noticeable detail on the player.  And had many fans asking what they were all about.

2014 was the first time that the battle was in full force off the field, primarily on the social media stage.

adidas took to social giving a voice to the official match ball, the Brazuca, with the @brazuca twitter handle and gave the ‘All In Or Nothing’ campaign for 2014 the easy to remember and well used, 917,000 times, hashtag #allin.  Overall they had a 5.8 million increase in social followers.

Nike took to social with their ‘Risk Everything’ campaign using the #riskeverything hashtag.  The short film trilogy, ‘Risk Everything’, ‘Winner Stays’, and ‘The Last Game’, engaged 23 million people.  ‘The Last Game’ became one of facebook’s most shared posts all-time.  At the final whistle, Nike added 6.2 million followers during the month.

Which brand do you think won the World Cup?  What brand will you select the next time you are looking to buy a pair of cleats or jersey?