article link here
I'd like to touch on an article going around titled: Adidas: Sports Apparel Laughingstock, because I found a lot of questionable claims. Questionable at best, and it is filled with Nike bias and feels written by someone who just hates adidas without giving them their fair share of credit and definitely without knowing the whole picture of their history and strategy.
First of all, let's not act like everything Nike and UA does is gold. Truth is, if you take each company’s best and worst in all sports and put them against each other, there's not a lot of difference. And, Nike is completely failing in the NFL right now as far as tasteful aesthetics go and are absolutely as bad as adidas' NCAA basketball uniforms.
There is also no mention here of one of the biggest backfires this year from Nike, the US women's soccer team uniform which features no national colors and is designed more like "team Nike".
Pulling from the article. . .
"[adidas] range from botching a shoe deal with Kobe Bryant back in 1996, to acquiring the sinking ship known as Reebok, to having its splashiest recent endorsement deals in basketball and football backfire. See, e.g., Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lin and Robert Griffin III, just to name a few."
Isn't this mainly bad luck? Nike signed Lebron before he was in the NBA because they offered more money. What if he had been hurt? there was no guarantee, they're all going for the hot athletes as soon as possible, it just hasn't worked out for adidas in the same way.
Oh but by the way, adidas is also endorsed by Lionel Messi, Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez (i know, but pop culture icons and the author is crediting Giselle in his article), and John Wall.
Sure Nike has Brady, Tiger, Michael Vick (previously), Lance Armstrong (previously), Kobe. . . but these are all athletes who have had off-field or on-field issues. From cheating the game to rape accusations, these Nike's endorsers do as much to hurt their image as they do to move shoes. That's why a couple of them were dropped.
“When I was growing up in the 1990s, I viewed adidas as Europe’s version of Nike. While it wasn’t marketed much in the United States, I associated it with luxury because it was classic and foreign. But in failing to copy both Nike and Under Armour’s appeal to young consumers, adidas has lost its identity as a premium product.”
That's one side of the story; In the 90's one of adidas' biggest unofficial endorsers was NWA and much of the West Coast hip hop movement. The adidas and Raiders gear was probably an influence on the forthcoming trends in black.
“Sadly, much of the company’s demise is attributable to the heinous uniforms its been responsible for in the last several years. Yes, Nike and Under Armour have had their misses with new uniforms, but they’ve also had a lot of hits. Adidas, on the other hand, almost exclusively sustains misses.“
I don’t think the author sees the end goal of all these companies - to sell shoes. Sports uniforms is only the tip of the iceberg here and don’t think you can put their successes and failures squarely on jerseys. Nike can offer schools/leagues more money that's a huge benefit. Their marketing is certainly better than the others. There's lots of moving pieces here.
“Making good-looking sports uniforms isn’t rocket science. All it takes is basic fashion rules and common sense. Unfortunately, adidas no longer has either”
I nearly stopped reading after this, but I'm going to see the end. He goes on to mention the bad Notre Dame and Michigan football uniforms without mention of the good Shamrock and Rival uniforms adidas produced for the same schools. There is clearly a bias.
“Adding to the embarrassment, adidas’ Michigan basketball uniforms have had several wardrobe malfunctions that make the company’s product appear not just incredibly ugly, but horribly cheap.”
Every football coach i've talked to says they hate UA's equipment and their cleats are the cheapest on the market; they blow them out quick. There's been a lot of praise for their pants though, but all of these companies have their quality issues.
“Adidas needs to stick with a classic and clean look that honor the uniforms of yesteryear at its partner schools — especially with nostalgia so popular these days — and put just a couple modern touches to bring the uniforms forward to the year 2015.”
Well there's the answer to all the problems eh? Honestly, it's not a bad approach and might even be one i’d like to see them or Russell Athletic try. They should stop trying to out-Nike, Nike but I don't think the strategy to save the company can really be put into a single sentence. It has to be a culture and brand change not just a different approach to aesthetics. Nostalgia is not "popular these days" nostalgia is always popular and always will be.
“Take Miami’s glorious uniforms from the 1980s and ‘90s. . . . Update the fabric, fit and font for the present day. . . And voila! You have a masterpiece.”
Is this what the author thinks the 18 month design process at Nike is? The football uni design presented is a total change in brand for Miami. That's fine if you have the right info to suggest the change is right, but Miami has always been a modern school, they were sort of the Oregon before Oregon, often wearing a custom jersey design and changing it again before it got too stale. To dress them in a throwback inspired uniform is a big leap from that. The author is just selecting the design he likes best without any goals or strategy behind it - That's not an answer.
“I don’t want to hear that classic uniforms don’t appeal to 18-year-old kids. High school recruits will love wearing any great uniform, not just ones that look like they came from some dystopian future.
After all, Alabama never changes its uniforms, and the Crimson Tide isn’t exactly hurting on the recruiting trail.”
You might not want to hear it, but that's the truth for the majority and is largely the reason Nike did what they did with Oregon. I guarantee you if you ask the Oregon players about their favorite things about being a Duck, they will mention wearing the uniforms. That doesn't mean a kid will avoid Penn State because of the blank helmets, but it is the cherry on top of the experience. A little sexiness in the uniform is preferred by recruits.
Moreover, the identity and uniform design is an extension of the brand values. What Oregon and Alabama are trying to project are very different, their approach to, just about everything, is different. Both uniforms are great because they are appropriate for who they are as a school, as a brand, and both have excellent football programs that will trump any design anyway.
“In fact, the only successful alternate uniforms adidas has made for Michigan have been basketball throwbacks”
What? . . .
“The best example of that is Baylor’s gold chrome helmet designed by Nike that has proven to be wildly popular.”
Now there seems to be no difference between good and popular. One of the worst things to ever happen to football uniforms in my opinion, was the trend in chrome plated helmets. I think the Baylor helmet looks terrible. But yes, it is fairly popular with recruits, just like the other anti-Alabama designs that every manufacturer is dipping into.
Before the author said "Adidas needs to stick with a classic and clean looks that honor the uniforms of yesteryear" but now suggest an adoption of trends. Of course, mixing old elements with new is a great way to design something new, but I don't feel the author has any clear sense of direction of what he wants from adidas let alone what they actually should do.I don't believe it is a strategy that works for every client either. It is what Ohio State does, but not Alabama, not Penn State, and not even Oregon.
What is most surprising about this particular quote though, is it doesn't seem to count that adidas has already used the chrome technique in the most original way with Indiana (below) and overall, executed the dream scenario of "classic and clean" with a butt-ugly trend.