Adidas is thinking big with football overhaul, but the strategy contradicts its recent moves

After launching a major football boot campaign with “Haters” in January, appointing a new global creative agency in March and announcing a new strategy earlier this month, Adidas appears to be aware of the challenges it faces from competitors. However, its announcement this week that it will retire its entire existing line of football boots appears somewhat contradictory to its more recent moves.

A video released by the brand today (18 May) shows players including Leo Messi and Luis Suarez announcing the end of adidas’ existing range of football boots, including the Predator, f50, 11Pro and Nitrocharge.

The video also hints at the launch of a new range of boots, including a model called “Ace 15”, set to launch on 25 May and appear at the Champions League Final.

The reasons behind the move are unclear as the company’s football business seems to be in good health – adidas’ first quarter results showed that currency-neutral footwear sales had increased by 18%, mainly due to double-digit sales growth in the running and football categories, according to the company.

Group sales had also increased by 9% on a currency neutral basis, with sales of the adidas brand up by 11%.

While speaking during adidas’ first-quarter results earlier this month, CEO Herbert Hainer announced that the group would introduce “a radical revolution” by bringing two completely new franchises into its portfolio”, focusing on “the two most important types of football players – the playmaker and the game-changer”.

He also said the company would go after non-professional and street football.

The moves are part of adidas Group’s new strategy, ‘Creating the New’, which is the latest in a line of somewhat contradictory changes over the past few months, not only within its football business but also throughout the entire company.

Earlier this year, the company said it would increase marketing investment in its adidas and Reebok brands and push “relentless and aggressive storytelling” following the appointment of global creative agency 72andSunny.

This theme was certainly apparent in its January launch of “There Will Be Haters”, a provocative campaign, which also starred Suarez alongside footballers Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema, that centred around the hate players receive which drives them to play better.

The campaign coincided with the launch of a new football footwear range for 2015, including the adizero f50, Predator, Nitrocharge and 11Pro.

As recently as this weekend, the brand has continued innovation on these lines, creating a limited edition pair of its Predator Instinct shoe for Steven Gerrard to wear in his final match with Liverpool.

However, despite their prominence in recent campaigns and their sales success, today’s announcement means each of these ranges will be axed, suggesting the brand is struggling to find its positioning in the football market.

Rival Nike also saw its football business growth in the second quarter of its fiscal 2015 year, with double digit revenue growth in football credited for 24% revenue growth in Western Europe in the quarter.

Despite this, the company has recently focused its attention on its womenswear and e-commerce businesses, leaving room for Adidas to take the lead in the football business.

At the time of the “Haters” launch, an Adidas spokesperson told Marketing Week that the company was looking to “shift the emphasis” of its football brand marketing “from a football centric to a more consumer centric approach, delivering content focused around the more taboo and extensive areas of football”.

However, with a new video that is largely focused on the game of football and the importance of a new range of high-performance boots, it seems this strategy, and the brand’s positioning, may be getting lost.

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Comments
  • disqus_uqFj75sE3v 19 May 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I think you have a good direction as to what you’re saying however I think you’re looking at the strategy the wrong way.

    There “They will be haters” campaign precisely targets the fact there will be a change coming and people will not like the fact boots are being retired as well as the fact that campaign was not specifically pushing the boots. The campaign was pushing individual personalities and faces of football.

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