#BrandTalkWithLamide: What Adidas Can Do Now That Nike Can’t Just Do It
I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to maintain my distance from shoes, sneakers and everything going on in that industry, especially seeing how images of sneakers have started to, like a focused demon, trail me each time I get on the internet, no thanks to retargeting. Nonetheless, my interest in the industry has grown since my last article. The responses have been quite enlightening and exciting too, for which I am very grateful. I spent the better part of my week stalking Nike’s progress following the ‘heroic’ move and also pondering deeply what impact the outcome will have on its competitors, Fubu, Puma, Adidas.
Of a truth, I am not as concerned about the other two as I am with Adidas reason being the duo, Adidas and Nike, that is, are about the most active of the lot and I soon discovered upon research, that they have a history of rivalry; a very rich and interesting one in fact. This rivalry hit the zenith when in 2016, Kanye West, in one of the tracks on his Life of Pablo album, sang, ‘Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy just jumped over jumpman’ which unknown to many, is not a mere phrase but West’s declaration of allegiance to Adidas and a spiteful way of celebrating the amazing sales performance of his Adidas Yeezy Boots.
Just as a background, Nike had reached out to Kanye West for a collaboration on the ‘Air Yeezy’ (2009) and ‘Air Yeezy II’ (2014), a deal that didn’t see the light of day because Nike didn’t offer adequate royalties on the releases. Trust Daddy North to rant the next time he was on Hot 97, a popular radio station in the US. Savoirflair quotes West to have said, “Nike told me, ‘We can’t give you royalties, because you’re not a professional athlete.’ I told them, ‘I’ll go to the Garden and play one-on-no-one.’ I’m a performance athlete.” In a later interview with Sway, he ranted again calling out Mark Parker Nike’s CEO and saying, ‘I will still accept an investment in DONDA. I’ve got some more ideas that don’t involve shoes [so] if you guys are investing in the arts I am standing up and I’m telling you. I. Am. Warhol. I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation, in the flesh. I am Shakespeare, Walt Disney, Nike, Google. Now who’s gonna be the Medici Familiy and stand up and let me create more?”,
Nike couldn’t be bothered. Guess who was.
Adidas. Adidas rose up and to this and with an offer of a rumored $10 million dollar deal to be supplemented with royalties.
Talk about shots fired.
Fast forward to September 2018 and Nike is on the cover of the dailies for what most now refer to as one of the bravest Marketing moves in recent times. Nike right now has become extra popular and the books aren’t doing bad too; with a 31% shoot in sales since the ad. This trend, I have no doubt is starting to bother the Adidas team and I couldn’t help but wonder what I would do if I was in charge of the brand’s global Marketing strategy. What really should be done at such a time as this when their major competition is ‘running the town’? Should the brand fold arms and risk getting lost in the whole episode or should it get up to something to stay relevant amidst the drama?
Dilemmas of this nature make Marketing fun but I would not want to be caught in it alone so I reached out to a couple of industry players, some of whom were my colleagues and this is what they recommend Adidas does.
Wuraola Ogunsanya was my first call. We had worked together at BlackHouse Media and later at Brooks and Blake and I know how much of a strategist she is. Her response was simple, ‘Adidas needs to either support the cause or look for another emotional cause to rally behind. However, if they will be using another cause, they have to wait this out’. David Hundeyin, producer of The Other News on Channels TV and co-founder of Nova Nigeria, a copywriting agency agrees. He thinks this move, though shameless is what is necessary for Adidas to stay afloat, ‘I think Adidas should come up with their own landmark campaign that completely stays away from Nike’s socially conscious conversation but has a similar level of noticeability. Perhaps a campaign focusing on how Adidas harnesses the power of dreams’.
But the duo of Damilola Owolabi, Communications and Stakeholder Manager at Lumos Nigeria and Fayokemi Fadeyi, PR manager at DKK and Associates seem to have a different opinion. As far as they were concerned, Adidas need not embark on any campaign for now as such move may end up catastrophic especially seeing that Nike’s ‘success’ was ‘accidental’ as Taiwo Ogunwumi, Managing Partner at Brooks and Blake put it during our phone conversation. Owolabi advised that Adidas continues with sales efforts as they have been before and act unbothered while paying close attention to the trend for possible insights they can leverage.
Again, dilemmas like these make Marketing Communications fun and I really cannot wait to see what Adidas will do, although I sense they are up to something drastic already seeing the photo of Naomi Osaka they have on their page.
PS: Naomi recently won Serena (one of Nike’s ambassadors) at the US Open slam.