Frankfurt - In Brazil’s World Cup stadiums next year, soccer teams from around the globe will battle for the famous golden trophy.
At the same time, another fight for global supremacy will be taking place – as Adidas takes on Nike in the next round of their tussle to be the world’s biggest sports brand.
Nike owns 14.6 percent of the global sporting goods market to Adidas’s 11.4 percent, and is whittling away at the German brand’s top position in Europe. Adidas held 13.2 percent of the western European sporting goods market last year to Nike’s 12.4 percent, according to Euromonitor data.
For more than 40 years, Adidas has decorated soccer kit and shoes with its distinctive parallel lines logo. It has strong partnerships setting it up well for the coming challenge: a close relationship with German club Bayern Munich, of which it owns 9 percent, and with Fifa, soccer’s world governing body, for which it designs official World Cup kit.
It has forecast record soccer sales of over e2 billion (R28bn) next year, and aims to boost group sales to e17bn in 2015.
American group Nike, meanwhile, only entered the soccer market in 1994. But it has several major partnerships with clubs, including English champions Manchester United.
The owner of the distinctive swoosh or tick logo, does not give forecasts for individual sport categories, but it is predicting group sales of up to $30bn (R310bn) by 2015 – suggesting it thinks it can put in a sufficiently strong performance during the World Cup to stretch its global lead.
In Nike’s first fiscal quarter of this year, ending on August 31, it posted an 8 percent jump in sales in Europe. Over the same period, Adidas’s European sales fell 7 percent.
Adidas is pulling out all the stops to make its presence felt in Brazil, where Nike sponsors the national team
. Adidas is aiming to make its presence felt with players like Lionel Messi and Mesut Ozil, who play for Adidas-sponsored national teams Argentina and Germany – and the launch of the official match ball, the “Brazuca”.
Given the scale of the battle, however, it will also be using what is politely known as “ambush marketing”.
Big name endorsements are also responsible for Nike’s broader success. Its impressive roster of sponsorship deals includes current names like soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.
But the biggest challenge in the battle of the brands is to win the crown of cool – something far more difficult than simply designing a new product. At the moment, say market watchers and consultants, Nike seems to be stealing a march on Adidas thanks to early adoption of new technologies, which it is then harnessing to a bigger social media presence.
Nike has almost 2.5 million Twitter followers to just over 570 000 for Adidas. – Reuters