Adidas has become one of the leading fashion labels in the world, but its feet are firmly on the sporting track.
Adidas are worn by people all over the world. Adidas trainers are chosen by sport lovers and fashion followers alike. But when it comes to sport, Adidas are in it to win it. The news that Adidas sportswear has agreed to put an impressive £100m into the cost of London's Olympics illustrates how seriously the question of sport is taken by Adidas. And what's more, the German giant is sponsoring British athletes. It's a move that shows that Adidas sees no boundaries when it comes to sporting greatness. Adidas was after all originally the love-child of Adolf Dassler, a German sports fanatic and shoe designer, and his brother, Rudolf Dassler, a canny salesman. The brothers had a bitter rivalry and finally split company, one headed up the sport giant Adidas, the other established the equally formidable Puma. The two brothers were also involved in the Nazi party, making their American success and all-conquering sportswear companies something that went beyond geography, politics and culture.
Adidas: Transcending Boundaries
The story behind Adidas and Puma and the two warring brothers has been documented in a book, Sneaker Wars. And the Adidas involvement with the upcoming Olympics is nothing new – the company has links with the German Olympics in 1936 when sport was very much at the heart of Nazi propaganda. Of course, Adidas is a long way away from those dark days. Herbert Hainer is the chief executive of Adidas. Although £100m is incredibly generous, he says Adidas has a long-running sponsorship programme with 17 countries including France, Ethiopia and Australia.
An Olympic Success
Adidas sponsored the Beijing Olympics too, and all but one of London's 26 athletes there wore Adidas kits. Of course, getting top athletes to wear Adidas at global sporting events is also priceless marketing. Adidas has very much built itself up on the power of marketing, transforming its fortunes and its future when it appointed Robert Louis-Dreyfus from the renowned Saatchi & Saatchi in the early nineties. Adidas no longer manufacture their footwear in Germany but have outsourced to China. As Hainer told the Telegraph newspaper: “You have to offer much more than just designing and producing product, but we are definitely still a marketing-led company. We are spending more money than ever on marketing – 13 per cent of net sales.” And its partly thanks to this investment that Adidas has conquered the sporting world. The power of Adidas marketing is illustrated in the fact that three-quarters of all Adidas sales are of sports performance goods, yet the majority of those who wear Adidas wear their trainers to pose in, not play sport in.
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