Is the ball really that bad?

3 Jun

It seems like a day doesn’t go by without someone throwing criticism the way of the new adidas world cup ball. What is interesting this time is it’s not just the goalkeepers who are voicing their concerns. Forwards are complaining of their inability to strike the ball on target, midfielders about their inability to pick out a man and defenders about how the ball changes in midair when they rise to meet a header.

One thing that also got me thinking was they have been playing with the ball in the German league and in the MLS and seemingly know one has been complaining in these leagues about he balls ‘beach ball’ like characteristics.

This article from the co-developer at Loughborough University seems to explain it all

It’s the altitude that is causing the problems, in fact that would make any ball do the same. Well, ok, understood, but is this ball designed for the world cup or not? If it is then why was this not tested at altitude and with the very same players who are going to ping it all over the park? At least then adidas would be able to turn round and say that a multitude of players have been testing this thing for years and nothing was raised in testing. Instead all they seem to have is some pretty smart sport and physics specialists telling us this thing wasn’t a problem when we tested it in our smart computer controlled testing centre.

I’m not sure what the answer is or even how good or bad the ball is but I think some good PR and non machine field testing would have given adidas some fodder at this stage. Unfortunately we will have to wait until the tournament starts until we really find out.

(lovely balls)


Is this the future of the sneaker/trainer box?

14 Apr

Let’s face it they have to come in something. I quite like my trainer boxes and the stuff that is contained inside, but I also know that the current distribution model is not sustainable and something has to change.

Puma and Yves Béhar have spent almost 3 years developing their version of what this might be. The result is the ‘Clever Little Bag’. Isn’t it nice?

As a customer you get a nice keep sake if you so desire with the red tote bag, but more importantly everything is recyclable and the reduction in cardboard is 65% less than standard boxes.

Would’nt it be nice if all sports brands used this form. Somewhat like if all the mobile handset manufacturers got together 10 years ago and decided on a universal form of charger, we wouldnt have the millions and billions of useless chargers getting dumped on landfill sites the world over. Somehow though, I can’t see Puma wanting to share this with their rivals, and who would blame them.

Thanks to Fastcompany for the details:

football shirt + plastic bottle = made real

14 Mar

I’m sure you’ve already heard that the new Nike world cup shirts are made by recycling 8 plastic bottles. Clever idea, nicely executed. Once you contextuliase enviornmental issues and equate them to everyday items or events do you get peoples attention. Here is Nikes effort…

I hope those bottles are in turn recyclable!

Mass to niche: the way forward for sport retailers?

3 Mar

A recession always brings about changes in customer behaviour; a tightening of purse strings and a re-evaluation of what they value from purchases being the most common. The recent recession was no different. Customers increasingly are demanding better experiences, better quality, better knowledge, better value and longer lasting items from brands – they take added time in making decisions on purchases because margin of income dictates that this makes most sense to the consumer.

What does this mean for sport retailers? Well, customers appear sick of getting poor advice from poorly trained staff, in environments that seem to push all and everything at them. See how Apple have addressed this in their retail environments; staff that have better training and can interact with customer, more focused and relevant offers and flexible store environments. They have rode the economic storm and reaped the benefits.

Step forward Footlocker. They are currently testing a pilot scheme in New York City where by they have created a specialist retail environment for runners called, ‘Run’.  The focus is better equipped staff, better advice and more focused offers, making sure customers walk out of the store with the best product for their needs. Buying running equipment can seem like a daunting experience when you don’t know what you are doing, especially when you are surrounded by all kinds of products from what seems like every possible sport and staff that have been spread too wide that they don’t really know what they are talking about.

Foot locker have created a niche offering around a popular sport, directing attention to what customers are increasingly demanding. Last year they did the same when they combined with Nike to create ‘House of Hoops’ for Basketball fans and players alike, again in New York City. Is this the way forward for Sports Retailers who value and need a presence on the high street? Maybe the strategy involves a few big, key multi sport stores and lot of little specialist offers like what Foot Locker are starting to do. Maybe then sports retailers will start being relevant again, not just for me but also for other hardened consumers across the globe.

The 50 highest paid footballers in the world

18 Feb

Study done by Futebol Finance out of Portugal.

Doesn’t reveal too much, except that top players enjoy the tax benefits of the Spanish system. Also some very average players earn some very good money out of the game.

Happy reading.

Puma mobile, a lifestyle brand that can make a phone?

17 Feb

Fresh from the Barcelona Mobile World conference is the Puma announcement that they are to launch  a branded mobile phone in association with French manufacturer, Sagem. Now unlike other brands who have tried and failed with this, think Armani and Prada, this bad boy could fall into the ‘not bad’ section of techy phone review sites the world over. Those aforementioned giants of the fashion world decided to rely too much on style over function (a no no in todays mobile savy world), clean lines and fancy finishes; simply it was aesthetics and little else mattered.

What Puma have achieved is actually quite nice. First thing that I notice is how playful the user interface looked (a strong part of the Puma brand). Visually there are many strong ques, from the use of Puma red to navigation via the playful icons which Puma now seems intent on utilising across its whole comms and product range. The phone has also been built from the inside out, integrating sport functionality and connecting it to elements of the Puma brand family. The continuing effort of the company to support green causes and make products which are more environmentally conscious have been captured through the handy inclusion of a solar power panel on the back. The phone even tells you how much music the sunshine has powered.

Click here for images from CNet:;page

Here is what the CEO had to say

“Just as PUMA is unlike any other sportlifestyle company out there, the PUMA PHONE is unlike any mobile phone on the market,” said Jochen Zeitz, CEO of PUMA.  “We want to engage with our community in a way that is consistent with everything PUMA stands for. Blending together the influences of sport, lifestyle and fashion, the PUMA PHONE reflects the joy, spontaneity and individuality that the PUMA brand is known for.”

Well, I like it. As a branded phone I’m always skeptical. I love the Nike+ attachment to ipod but was less enthusiastic about adidas’ efforts with Samsung. I since think MiCoach as a piece of technology may help adidas claw back something from Nike, but in general sports brands and tech firms don’t play nicely. This though could be the exception to that rule.

Is ‘Uncertainty’ holding back African football?

2 Feb

One thing that can’t be disputed is that African football is visually a very exciting footballing feast, both on the terraces and on the field of play. Unfortunately, what seems to follow African football at every turn stops it becoming the force that it could well become. An unnerving element of ‘uncertainty’ flows through African football and this level of uncertainty is not just limited to the performance of its players on the field but also the events off it. We don’t need a more compelling example than the unfortunate events involving the Toga team bus in Angola at the start of the ACN (African Cup of Nations) or the erratic quality of the goalkeeping on the field!

But what will it do to damage the perceptions of African football and its hosting of this summers World Cup? Well you could say that African football was in the midst of an upwards turn. Pele famously predicted by the turn of the millennium that an African nation would be champions of the world – that hasn’t happened yet but every major league is now littered with top African talent and now the biggest sporting event in the world is coming to town.

Also Puma have recognised the power of Africa, the energy, colour and passion that goes with the football and aligned its football brand against the whole continent. Many positives exist in the region and associations are extremely powerful, yet people still ask questions and there are some underlying uncertainties which so far have held back SA2010 from having the buzz and excitement at this stage which previous tournaments enjoyed.

The events that occurred in Angola; the incident with the team bus and the subsequent banning of Togo from the next 2 tournaments has increased this feeling. Lingering questions remain and feel unanswered; the safety and security, the logistics and organisation of the tournament, the reaction of the communities to incoming spectators are all elements that add to the list of unknowns. Hopefully the World Cup will be the start of a prosperous and exciting period that firmly puts these questions to bed. The pressure is most certainly on for SA2010, I hope they can handle it, and finally show to the world that there is nothing to be uncertain about anymore.