Adidas sets sights on football stars in big U.S. drive
By Emma Thomasson
BERLIN (Reuters) - Adidas wants to sign dozens of deals with U.S. sports stars in coming years, hoping that will provide a more lasting boost to sales than the current fashion fad for its retro sneakers, its North America head told Reuters.
Since falling into third place in the United States behind Nike and Under Armour, the German firm has regained some ground in recent months after raising marketing spending in the world's top sportswear market.
Mark King has put a big focus on signing top athletes in sports like American football, basketball and baseball since he took over as president of the region for Adidas in 2014, after more than a decade running the company's golf business.
He said Adidas wants to sponsor 250 National Football League (NFL) players by 2020, up from 95 now, plus 100 National Basketball Association players (NBA), up from about 70 now.
"When you do well in football in the United States, it is like doing well in soccer in Germany," King, an American who appeared as a business role model on reality show "The Apprentice", said in a phone interview.
"The more grounded that we are in America, in American sports, the more success we're going to have."
Adidas this month reported a 31 percent jump in first-quarter sales of its core brand in North America, driven by the popularity of retro shoes such as Superstar and Stan Smith.
But some analysts are concerned that the company could be left exposed to the fickle winds of fashion fads if it does not do more to establish its credentials in U.S. sports. Continued...