A.D.I.D.A.S.

ADIDAS

Chances are, if you had access to the radio or watched MTV in 2003, you can recall the popularity of Killer Mike’s A.D.I.D.A.S. song. If not, you might remember hearing kids (and adults alike) singing/rapping the lyrics “All Day I Dream About… [Sex]. Where I grew up, kids recognized Adidas more for the hit rap song than the sportswear brand. While track jackets and “superstar” shoes were nice to have, Adidas just wasn’t as “cool” as its rival Nike. But why is that? Was it the products and design aesthetics, or was the problem more with its integrated marketing strategies?

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 9.23.51 PMWhile the company has seen its share of popularity, thanks to collaborations with RUN DMC in the 1980’s and Missy Elliot in the 1990’s (Johnson, 2014), Adidas’ success has come and gone throughout the years (Hobbs, 2016). As Vogue reported, Adidas’ marketing team previously had a difficult time finding innovative ways to “inspire and engage” the 15-25 year old target audience (Johnson, 2014). Fast forward to 2016, and Adidas is steadily rebuilding its brand loyalty (Hobbs, 2016).

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 4.33.24 PMWorking alongside artists such as Kanye West and Pharrell, as well as fashion designers like Rick Owens and Stella McCartney, Adidas is repositioning itself in the sporting goods market (Johnson, 2014). Just look at the success of the Air Yeezy sneaker. The shoe is commonly seen on every major celebrity. Much more, its sell-out rate is astonishing. Everyone is looking to get their hands on a pair (or two). Resale prices are sky-high. A simple Google search reveals people are reselling the shoe for over $1,000.00! Simply put, the Yeezy sneaker is the latest hot commodity taking over the shoe market. Not to mention, pictures of the highly coveted shoe are all over social media.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 4.45.01 PMSpeaking of shoe trends, the “Stan Smith” sneaker is another Adidas shoe making its way into pop culture. From in-demand models like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner to fashion mogul Victoria Beckham, the “Stan Smith” shoe is being worn by almost every “it” girl. Not to mention, men like David Beckham, Pharrell, and A$AP Rocky have also been spotted wearing the sneaker. By capitalizing on the popularity and exposure among influential celebrities, Adidas has finally reached its target audience. With its increased presence on social media, the brand has successfully made the shift from traditional to digital marketing.

But what does this all mean?

Well….it means Adidas is looking to close the gap with its rival Nike. While Nike’s dominance and success are unparalleled, Adidas is looking to capitalize on Nike’s major weakness. Since “Nike isn’t interested in building ongoing collections around individuals who aren’t athletes” (Johnson, 2014), Adidas is using that to its advantage and recruiting “an army of artists and designers”(Johnson, 2014) to help transcend the brand.

However, as Hobbs (2016) reported, while Adidas remains the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe, in the U.S. (and every other country for that matter), it comes second behind Nike. So how can Adidas win the “race to innovate faster and better” (Johnson, 2014)? Here are a few tips provided by Hobbs (2016):

Maintain star names: Adidas should work to preserve the healthy relationships it maintains with sports stars like: Aaron Rodgers, Derrick Rose, and Lionel Messi. Not to mention the highly lucrative deals Adidas has with club teams such as Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and most recently, Real Madrid (Forbes.com).

Win back dominance in the U.S.: The “key to Adidas’ growth in America will be ensuring it chooses sponsorship deals that are right for the US market.” Foremost, it should make “a lot of divestments” and “shake up” its current portfolio.

Re-evaluate its sponsorship of FIFA: Given the recent scandal plaguing the soccer world, it might be best for Adidas to distance themselves from all the controversy before the negative spotlight falls on them too.

Will the proposed marketing communication strategies help Adidas dethrone Nike? That is to be determined. The best marketing and branding strategies stand the test of time. So for now, we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, we can keep our eyes on Instagram (and other social media platforms) to see who’s ahead in the race.

When facing a giant, the best way to win is to play by your own rules” (Johnson, 2014).

References

http://www.vogue.com/13268578/033114-adidas-pharrell-williams-collaboration/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2015/05/06/soccers-richest-sponsorship-deals/#68f12b9d23a7

https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/01/25/adidas-looks-to-avoid-reputational-risk-with-move-to-end-athletics-sponsorship/

https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/01/05/adidas-creates-new-brand-activation-role-as-it-refocuses-eu-marketing-division/

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8 Responses to A.D.I.D.A.S.

  1. Kimberly says:

    I think celebrity sponsorship will continue to help Adidas and market it as a desirable brand. Personally, when I think of Adidas, I think of casual fashion and everyday sneakers. When I think of Nike, I think quality sportswear and athletic shoes. In this way I feel like Adidas and Nike are almost operating in different markets. I think it will be hard for Adidas to win more of the ‘high end athletic wear’ market, especially if they continue to use non-athlete brand sponsors.

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Kimberly!

      Thank you for the response. I think you raise several great points. Nike certainly produces quality sportswear and shoes, making it difficult for Adidas to even compete with the brand. Perhaps that is why they took a different approach. I’m interested to see how it all plays out.

      Thanks,
      Michelle

  2. Karen says:

    Going off of what we learned this week about brand elements, one thing Adidas can do is work on its brand image. Adidas is a long standing brand and as you mentioned has had many successes over its lifetime. One thing I would recommend Adidas to do is to reinvigorate their brand and focusing on the image they want their consumers to think and feel when they see or wear Adidas. The answer may not necessarily lie with the use of star endorsements, unless however they are consistent with the image they are trying to portray.

    In the chase to catch up with Nike, I think Adidas may be losing sight of what there long standing brand makes people who have made it successful in the past felt. The use of today’s popular celebrities are great, but the message they are relaying may not be consistent with Adidas overall brand?

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Karen!

      Thanks for the feedback! You proposed excellent ideas. I agree with your approach. If Adidas focused on its overall image, instead of taking big risks, this could be more beneficial in the long haul. Perhaps celebrity endorsements might not prove to be the best strategy. I’m definitely interested to see the direction they take if that were to be the case.

      Thanks!
      Michelle

  3. Karen says:

    Going off of what we learned this week about brand elements, one thing Adidas can do is work on its brand image. Adidas is a long standing brand and as you mentioned has had many successes over its lifetime. One thing I would recommend Adidas to do is to reinvigorate their brand and focusing on the image they want their consumers to think and feel when they see or wear Adidas. The answer may not necessarily lie with the use of star endorsements, unless however they are consistent with the image they are trying to portray.

    In the chase to catch up with Nike, I think Adidas may be losing sight of what their long standing brand makes people who have made it successful in the past felt. The use of today’s popular celebrities are great, but the message they are relaying may not be consistent with Adidas overall brand?

  4. Lorena says:

    Great post. This is a tough one though. One thing I feel that Nike does is stay consistent. It feels like Adidas has fallen off and tried to come back and in the meantime, Nike is always there.

    I think they will have to take a serious look at their brand image and not just see what Nike is doing but almost try and predict what they may do NEXT. It’s not about keeping up with them, they have to be forward thinking to win.

  5. Michelle says:

    Hi Lorena!

    Thank you for the feedback!! I think you are absolutely correct in that Nike consistently gets it “right”, whereas Adidas has struggled to find its way. I will say, Adidas’ recent marketing efforts, and seeing all the buzz on social media, sparked my interest. Nevertheless, I agree with your thoughts, for Adidas to surpass Nike (if that is even possible) they will have to be 2-3 steps ahead of the game.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Michelle

  6. Lindsay says:

    Michelle, I was struck by your comment that Adidas is seeking to regain US market share. You are absolutely right that Nike has the largest market share in the US market, and Adidas’s share has definitely waned from what it used to be in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Adidas has a significant market share in Europe and other global countries. Much of Adidas’s European market share is driven by their recognition with football (or as we Americans call… soccer). I don’t think they need to distance themselves from FIFA. That would perhaps cause more damage to their brand in Europe and Latin America, than it would to improve the opinions of Americans. Furthermore, Americans concerned with the scandals in FIFA are limited in number. I think you really hit the nail on the head by pointing out that Adidas’s inroad is celebrity endorsement and special shoe designs. Especially if Adidas focuses on utilizing European celebrities whom Americans look up to – David Beckham, Kate Moss – or celebrities who live a lifestyle of high global fashion – Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid – these individuals certainly can have a powerful influence to change Adidas’s image in the US.