It’s been a couple of years since Adidas fell behind Under Armour into third place in the US sportswear market. Now the German sportswear giant is going all out to pull itself back up and a key part of its plan is to do so through athletic endorsements.
In the coming years, Adidas hopes to sign 155 more NFL players by 2020, bringing its total roster to 250, Reuters reports. So start lining up for your free gear and checks, NFL players. In addition, Adidas is setting its sights on adding 30 more NBA players to the 70 it currently has under contract.
“When you do well in football in the United States, it is like doing well in soccer in Germany,” Mark King, president of the region for Adidas, told Reuters. “The more grounded that we are in America, in American sports, the more success we’re going to have.”
The brand is already showing some improvement in the US with a 31% increase in first-quarter sales in North America. One analyst noted that this is good news but Adidas needs to be careful. “The risk is that it is very easy to make the brand tired when focusing too much on fashion,” Berenberg analyst Zuzanna Pusz told Reuters. “Adidas is definitely hot in the United States now, but it is hot in fashion, and fashion can fade away.”
One thing that has helped Adidas grow is that it has has created a major US base of operations in Portland, Oregon, which coincidently is also home to Nike. In addition, the brand has also been designing shoes specifically for the US market as well, snagging three designers from Nike’s team.
Meanwhile, in Europe, it’s the other definition of football—soccer—where the brand continues to put most of its energy. UEFA Euro 2016 is just a few weeks away and Adidas has unveiled three sets of chrome-colored soccer cleats, each worn by a soccer star such as Lionel Messi.
Of course, Nike and Under Armour are doing their best to challenge Adidas on the soccer turf. Nike just beat out Under Armour to take over the endorsement deal with England’s famed Chelsea football club, a partnership that Adidas held for many years. Nike now has to shell out about $87.5 million a year to Chelsea, Investors.com reports.
Adidas is also looking to tap into the youth market by hanging out with them where they’re hanging out—i.e. Snapchat—to create a conversation and buzz around its brand and products. “We’re at a moment where the classic mechanism of launching a product isn’t always working,” Silvia Calligher, global PR and social media director for Adidas Originals, told Digiday. “It’s a global world and one where everyone with a mobile phone can capture a picture that’s under embargo.”
To that end, Adidas launched its second Snapchat channel within the past week and immediately saw entries from Pharrell Williams, who just released the “Pink Beach” adidas Originals line of shoes and clothing.