This has been a busy time for Adidas. The NBA All-Star
Weekend took place recently in Houston, the company is testing new NBA
short-sleeve jerseys with the Golden State Warriors and Adidas is
trying to turn the running and training world upside down with the unveiling
of its new Energy Boost running shoes.
The shoe features Boost, described by Adidas as a "revolutionary
cushioning technology which provides the highest energy return in the running
industry." It hits the retail market with a multimedia campaign, including
traditional and online, with a heavy dose of social media and experiential
marketing. The company plans to expand the technology to its basketball, soccer
and other key lines in 2013-14, and will follow up Energy Boost with another
innovation for running and training-SpringBlade-which will be a shoe line
featuring a series of rubber tentacle-like springs that run along the sole of
the shoe. Adidas said this technology would hit retail in August.
"We are here to open a new chapter in Adidas innovation," said Erich Stamminger, Adidas group president of brands, at a recent New York City event introducing Energy Boost shoes.
After the event, Stamminger talked about the company's global sports activations and partnerships and how the company stands out in the competitive market.
What response have you gotten from consumers regarding
your products and the marketing support behind these products?
Innovation and Adidas belong together. Innovation is in our DNA. And I believe
that consumers and athletes are responding very well to what we are and how we
are presenting our products. Our focus over the past couple of years has been
to be younger and more relevant. And we are seeing the benefits of that. Kids
today are looking at our brand in the right light, both on the field of play
and also in the hallways of their schools. We have two ways to talk to
consumers: performance and originals. We are seeing success in both areas.
What is the state of Adidas in 2013?
We are at a super high. We have had three consecutive years of growth in
the U.S. marketplace. We are staying true to the Adidas values of bringing
innovation to the market, to having athletes perform better. What we are doing
now, launching Boost and also looking ahead to SpringBlades, working with the
Golden State Warriors to bring innovation to basketball and working with the
NBA as a strong partner, all are good examples of what we are doing now and how
we are looking to the future.
Although each Olympic Games is unique, what did you
learn from the 2012 London Games-where Adidas was an official sponsor-that you
will be taking forward to upcoming Olympics in working with national teams and
London was unique. But we are working with athletes all the time. Not just at
the Olympic level. NCAA. FIFA. NBA. Helping them to get to the next level
through our product innovations. The Olympics is the showcase, every two years
and every four years for the Summer Games. That is where you can really
showcase your innovations. But for Adidas, that is going on every day. We are
working with athletes at every level, helping them to get better.
Adidas is able to put its 'three-stripe' logo on NBA
uniforms, and you see it on jerseys in soccer and other teams in which you are
officially aligned. But what do you see in the future as far as the NBA, MLB
and other sports leagues putting brand names and logos on their uniforms and
jerseys, as they do in MLS and soccer teams around the world?
You have it in MLS and the WNBA. I think it will come in other leagues and
sports in the U.S., as well. It's a matter of timing. The financial upside is
there [for teams and leagues] to do it. Sports fans in the U.S. might not be
used to it, certainly not as much as fans of the English Premiere
League and other sports on an international level are used to seeing it.
Those teams and leagues know the advantage of such deals, and fans are able to
see the benefits of it. So you will see it more in the U.S.
How would you describe your relationship with the NBA?
We are very happy with our partnership with the NBA. It's been very beneficial
for the league and for Adidas. During the All-Star Weekend, we got to showcase
new uniforms and new basketball shoes, so it was a great time for us. I
was in Houston, as were other Adidas executives, and it was a very
good time for us to not only talk business but relax and have fun talking about
Adidas and the NBA are experimenting with new jerseys
for the Golden State Warriors. Where do you see that going?
I believe that fans and players will like it. It is not just for style, but
also for better performance for the athletes. It is 26% lighter than the
current uniforms and it uses the Adidas ClimaCool technology, which helps keep
the players comfortable and dry during games. And it has another benefit in
that it is made with 60% recycled materials. The look is not that much
different from players who wear T-shirts under their jerseys. But it also has
the benefit of fitted sleeves, so unlike wearing a T-shirt, the sleeve does not
get in the way of shots.
Have you received any player or consumer feedback yet?
We just introduced it. We are an official [retail] partner with the Warriors,
which is one of the important reasons we are working with them to help
introduce this innovation. The players who have tested it said they like it;
they want to wear it during games.
Is the plan to go league-wide with these new jerseys?
That would be the ultimate goal. We see this as being something that all
players and consumers will have a positive response to and that has a good
opportunity to go to other teams. When you look at basketball, there have been
several very important innovations that may at first have seemed radical.
Shorts are now longer. Shoes are lighter. For a long time all basketball shoes
looked the same. Now players can have a different style for every game. So in
the future, when other teams are wearing this new jersey, you could look back
and not even remember when players were not wearing them.
Derrick Rose is a very visible Adidas spokesman, but
he has been sidelined while rehabilitating from knee surgery and may miss the
entire 2012-13 NBA season. Will he continue to be an important person for the
company moving forward?
Most certainly. We are continuing to release new products with Derrick Rose.
But, most important, we are supporting his efforts to get back on the court in
the way he feels is best for his health and his future. Do we want to see him
back on the court with the Chicago Bulls? Yes. But not until he feels his
rehabilitation is 100% complete. For us, it is about looking forward and continuing
to work with him, but putting all our energies into supporting his return to
This Q&A was reprinted with permission ofNYSportsJournalism.com.