Anyone with eyes knows that Nike now owns the NBA. The Swoosh is so dominant in images that other brands have to rely on sneaker sites to deliver information on any basketball style they are releasing. As a matter of fact 2016’s roll out of the Harden Volume 1 featured a call to “Wake Up the Game” and the Harden helped adidas Basketball soar to new heights in 2017. The Harden was one of the best performing shoes for the brand. Analysts shared data about the 40% growth in basketball, but failed to establish that it’s easy to grow 40% when your primary star is an oft injured, often traded former all star considering retirement and the new star is a charismatic floor leader who gets buckets. Harden was a natural fit for the brand. The relationship worked.
Now that Harden has a year and a half under his belt as a signature athlete and it’s time to move on to Volume 2 it appears that adidas has decided secrecy is the route to Volume 2. I walked into Finish Line last week and saw the next James Harden Signature on the shelf. There wasn’t any merchandising, no tee shirts or accessories; just a shoe placed on the shelf at the top above NMDs, Lillard 4s that were on sale and Primeknit Crazy ADVs that were on sale. If the growth was so big for Harden and adidas Basketball where is the enthusiasm? Is it on IG or Twitter? Brands are doing a disservice to their athletes and brand by leaving launch information up to sneaker sites and YouTube stars.
adidas’ remedy for no longer sponsoring the NBA appears to be a halfhearted All Star game and concert for its endorsers. The event is being called 747 for the location of the 2 day event.
I discovered this event because I browse. Most people don’t. I’m sure the tickets will sell through because we love celebrity and the chance to see NBA players and entertainers is always a draw, but the roll out of the Crazy Series from adidas featured Mumble rappers. This event is headline by an OG in Snoop, but the use of 2Chainz shows that adidas is out of touch. Let’s see what 2Chainz has done in the last few months.
Launched a sneaker with Versace
Launched a campaign with Under Armour and Cam Newton
Launched a sneaker with Ewing
I get it. Dude is a 6-5 ex basketball player so the weekend seems a natural fit for adidas and he’s also done sneakers with adidas, but let’s be serious here, the entire idea of brand loyalty is out the window and the roster of NBA players will probably show up because they are obligated. The video released to hype the event currently has around 700 views and while the event is still over three weeks away, promotion is shaky. adidas has relied on hype, “Attendees will enjoy access to the brand’s most desired products only available at 747 Warehouse Street including exclusive releases of Harden Vol.2, Dame 4 BAPE, FUTURECRAFT 4D, SPEEDFACTORY, Y-3, and exclusive adidas Originals styles including BYW (BOOST You Wear), and new models from the brand’s collaboration with Alexander Wang.”
I get it. If the people want hype, give them hype; but last year adidas was at its best when they created subversive campaigns that felt more in touch with the culture of independence. I guess the real point is that at the same time this announcement for All Star Weekend was dropped, they also dropped the campaign for the adidas Soccer Cold Blooded Collection. The imagery and context is cold blooded. Action shots, athletes wearing streetwear by adidas and street versions of the soccer creations, the entire package is behind the “cold blooded” launch. Rightfully so as the World Cup is coming and that will be one of the most important events for the brand this year. The contrast is striking and telling. adidas may be hosting an event for All Star Weekend, but it’s a matter of being present as opposed to being “all in” and that’s not a good thing.