A few weeks ago adidas’ North American head announced the brand would be making a push to generate a deeper interest in basketball by the Three Stripes. I questioned the logic as adidas had the greatest basketball product in the world and allowed Nike to take it.
In the article above I made it a point to establish that adidas had to utilize a grassroots strategy to make themselves important beyond fashion. I stated that this was important because the brand as big as it grew last year is already seeing a slow down in popular items like the NMD and EQT lines, and adidas is seeing a lot of markdowns for its items as well as losing retail space inside of brick and mortar stores.
To reestablish their relevance in sports was and is going to be a ground up initiative. They’ve done a great job in football via Snoop Dogg’s Football League, but they have encountered serious issues with the current NCAA investigation into “pay to play” athletes. When I first read about the Pac Pro Football League I was excited by the prospect. I wrote a very detailed article with backlinks to other discussions I created for the site:
What exactly is the Pac Pro? (For those unwilling to click through and read the backstory) Pac Pro is an alternative for players who might typically go to Alabama or the SEC power conferences. The age group of players will go straight from high school to the Pac Pro where they will compete utilizing safer rules that will be then considered by the NFL. The athletes will also be paid, which is the most important aspect. They will be enrolled in college courses. If you are familiar with IMG the Pac Pro will be a more corporatized version.
Here is a quote from Don Yee, the founder, “Pacific Pro Football CEO Don Yee said, “We are grateful for adidas’ belief in our vision that there is a need for an alternative path to the NFL. adidas is one of the world’s great brands and innovators, and they will help us create many new jobs and a league that supports the proper development of football players.”
How does this subvert Under Armour and Nike?
Nike is the sponsor of the NFL. Nike’s prominence in America’s most popular sport generates and incredible amount of brand equity and connection to athletes. adidas is making a direct push to be connected to the athletes prior to them ever entering the NFL. It’s a smart leverage play that falls in line with what I wrote in the basketball article.
Under Armour is being subverted because one of the investors in the Pac Pro is Tom Brady. The CEO of the league is Tom Brady’s agent. adidas has just made a very smart play to connect itself to two leagues and make itself the grassroots foundation of football. The Pac Pro starts in 2019, but I can see the league expanding quickly throughout regions with the assistance of adidas.
adidas just made one hell of a chess play. It’s a long term strategy with great roots.