The sneaker/workout apparel market turned upside down when Nike became the first to stop talking about benefits of its shoe and sported, “Just Do It.”
Since then, competitors have tried and tried to bite into Nike’s market share with little success. Converse, once the market leader, fell out of existence until Nike, of all companies, bought it and sold it as a fashion item.
The two competitors trying to claim more prominence ever since have been Adidas and Reebok, joining forces in 2006 when Adidas bought Reebok to create something of a juggernaut.
Or so it hoped. Nike still holds the market lead and Under Armor has usurped Adidas in the workout apparel market.
It is in this situation that Adidas is attempting to change course in two ways: 1) Use more US athletes to market Adidas shoes and 2) feature a free-range chicken for Reebok.
I’m not joking.
Adidas announced a new shoe marketed by Portland Trailblazer Damian Lillard as its North American President said: “I know we’re a soccer brand globally, but in the US we have to be about US sport. We can still be No. 1 in soccer, but that can’t be what drives our business.”
So Adidas signed up 250 NFL players and 250 MLB players, increasing their number of sponsored players dramatically. By itself, it’s not a bad idea as having athletes as spokespeople is a table stake in this category. (Nike was out front first with this strategy.) I just wish Adidas looked for something different so it would represent an actual choice emotionally.
Under Armor has athletes too, but its brand is built on a specific male power, often over exaggerated but not that far (in emotional terms) as what Hardee’s does with hamburgers.
If what Adidas is doing is simply equaling the field, its sub-brand of Reebok is using the Just Do It approach within the comedy stylings of a chicken.
At least Reebok isn’t talking directly about its shoes, and I’m always up for something different. But Live Free Range is overly clever, which as I noted on Monday rarely works.
Is this what Reebok claims is the highest emotional intensity in the category? Or is it (or, most likely, its ad agency) just trying to create some advertising noise to be noticed?
Well, it’s not the former, and probably more of the latter.
It still seems only Under Armor has learned the lessons of Nike over these many years. Adidas and its sub-brand, Reebok, are still running loose like a chicken with its head cut off.