Running Away From Reebok: Can Adidas Bring The Struggling Brand Back To Life?

When the German sports product company Adidas bought rival athletic shoe maker Reebok in 2006, it signaled the end of a race for dominance between the two brands. But Nike still runs rings around both brands in terms of sales and market share.

The big question now for Adidas: can it help its former competitor cross the finish line with the help of marketing, sponsorships and new products?

The tale of the tape so far:

  • Going for Olympic Ad Gold – After spending (http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/tibet-crisis-adidas-chief-criticizes-anti-china-protestors-a-551262.html) $70 million Euros to be an official sponsor of the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, Adidas unlocked its vault again to nudge Nike out of the way for London, ensuring that any TV and online ads for its Reebok products get on the world stage. Advantage: Adidas/Reebok.
  • NFL vs. … Crossfit? – Reebok no longer is the official athletic shoe of the National Football League, its 10-year contract expiring in 2012. That’s now Nike’s turf. But Reebok has high hopes for its new sponsorship of Crossfit, the hard-core, functional fitness craze that includes annual competitions televised on ESPN2. But Reebok’s “The Sport of Fitness” marketing campaign is still relatively new. So you’ve got Eli Manning’s touchdown passes vs. triathlon-types flinging around kettlebells. Uh-huh. Advantage: Nike.
  • It’s Gotta Be The (New) Shoes – Or rather, shoes that take Reebok back to the future and its 1990s heyday, as the company pairs up with rappers like Rick Ross and Rakim to market the Reebok Classics line. There are also reports (http://www.examiner.com/article/reebok-classics-set-to-bring-back-the-answer-iv-and-kamikaze-ii-this-fall) that after re-releasing the Allen Iverson-inspired Question basketball shoe in May 2012, Reebok Classics has updates of other potentially potent blasts from the past in waiting, namely the Answer IV and the Kamikaze II. Advantage: TBD.

Adidas obviously saw value in Reebok brand’s legacy and has big plans to leverage that history for a new generation of sports-crazy consumers. But it will have to keep playing the endorsement game with A-list athletes/celebrities and hope its Crossfit strategy will yield results.

 CI-Group, a New Jersey advertising agency, provides digital marketing and advertising consulting to Fortune 2000 companies in a wide range of industries. Founded nearly 30 years ago and based in Whitehouse, N.J., CI-Group is recognized as a top advertising agency specializing in marketing strategies, event marketing, promotions, direct marketing, digital printing, warehousing and fulfillment. Companies seeking an award-winning interactive agency that merges creative strategies with effective tactics should call 908-534-6100 or visit www.ci-group.com.

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