Tag Archives: adidas

Foresight goes along way: is Puma positioned to win at South Africa 2010?

12 Jun

This summers World Cup is perilously close. The big sporting goods manufacturers have unveiled their strategies for the competition and last minute injuries are hampering on pitch preparation on a daily basis. Team shirts have been launched; some made out of recycled plastic bottles others made the conventional way. Player, team and brand led campaigns are under way, some making more noise than the others. Nike has again focused their strategy around the individual with a mind blowing ‘write the future’ ad, which is seemingly everywhere. It’s very much focused on how one man can become hero one minute, villain the next. Adidas being adidas prefer to focus on the value of the team, queue ‘every team needs a spark’ and the history of the shirt to understand where they are coming from. Throw in for good measure a reminder that football is not just about performance and seeps into other areas of popular culture and we see Daft Punk and Noel Gallagher hanging out with David Beckham and various other international travelers in the Star Wars bar.

The above-mentioned brands are the obvious candidates for major activity around SA2010, adidas being official sponsors and Nike being the omnipresent competitor. What though of Puma? They laid their cards out for this tournament a long time ago (almost 10 years previous), in fact many where questioning the logic behind such a decision. The tournament in South Africa is seen as the defining moment in what they have intended all along. Puma’s alignment with Africa has long been questioned, almost primarily and naively for its focus too much on a single continent, a continent that has always flattered to deceive. Certainly the rationale behind this decision was not to sell replica shirts in Africa; instead it was a much deeper long-term approach to building a clear positioning for Puma and Puma football. What they have done is very smart; quietly and confidently planting the foundations of a strategy which is only now becoming obvious to the outside world.

Approaching the tournament they are ideally placed to steal the prize, not by ambushing the marketing side (appearing as if they are an official sponsor) even though they will, but by being much smarter than that. The whole brand has been adapted and created to feel like it comes from Africa, the communications, the promotional campaigns, the product and the values and energy that it takes from the continent. It has smartly aligned the continents love and passion for football and built a football offer around this, framing it with the simple message ‘love = football’.  The smartest thing they have done leading upto the last few months is to actually change their brand mark, replacing the iconic Puma stripe with a cut out of the African continent. This is smart, consumers and web 2.0 brands are used to this but for a more traditional brand to change a sacred mark is something else – imagine Apple taking away the apple or Coca-Cola the ribbons.

(the Puma identity with Africa cut-out, plus the love = football idea)

Without using dirty tactics, they are in a position where they could be perceived as ‘the’ sporting brand of the South African world cup. Additionally not being officially aligned with an organisation like FIFA means the brand can stay flexible and cool enough to do things radically different. Synonymous with what is going on in Africa, in tune with customers and timed to perfection. As the intrigue builds in African football; with the run-up to this tournament and the performance of its players in major European leagues, so to does Pumas strength and stock rise in the football category. Could it be finally time for others to step aside and let Puma take the top prize?

The final word on the ball (a lesson from the NBA)…

7 Jun

…and then we can let the games begin

Also, as an aside, if adidas want to send me one, I would be happy to give it a whirl!

A very nice article from 3 years ago. This talks about how the NBA gave into player power and reverted back to the old style leather ball from a newly introduced composite one. Now, I am not saying this is what FIFA, adidas or anyone else should do. Innovation is progress and some of footballs innovation in recent years is really rather impressive. I am merely highlighting what others have done when the users of the ball kick up a fuss.

Make your own minds up…only not just yet.

(original, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

http://www.opentechnologies.com/writings/CC011507.htm

Graphic to explain the Nike v adidas v Puma story

6 Jun

Great graphic piece here. Explains the story of the worlds 3 sporting brand powerhouses.

(right click to save)

Found at Meet the Boss

(http://www.meettheboss.tv/articles/?articleid=328)

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

http://www.sportindustry.biz/news/view/7419/developer-defends-adidas-world-cup-ball

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)

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: http://reviews.cnet.com/2300-13970_7-10002495-4.html?s=0&o=10002495&tag=mncol;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.

Protecting the end-to-end experience

23 Jul

An interesting image broke a few weeks ago of the US mens Olympic Basketball team in their new Nike designed uniforms. The offending piece centered around mens coach Mike Krzyzewski covering Dwight Howards adidas sponsored footwear – blocking the 3 stripes from display. Further controversy surrounded the image was directed at Howard, who while holding the ball blocked the Nike swoosh with his dangling arm.

Nike have invested hundreds of millions of dollars on sponsoring the US team and it’s in their best interests to protect where possible the whole experience from head to toe. In team sports it should be expected that individual stars have their own deals that can often compromise the exclusivity and impact the teams endorser stands to gain.

Take for example Ronaldinho (Brazilian sccer star), at Barcelona he was head to toe a Nike guy, they used him in almost every campaign piece – such is his iconic status and reach. This week Ronaldinho signed for AC Milan, an adidas endorsed team. Adidas immediately announced that they had pre orders of 11,000 Ronaldinho shirts within 2 hours of his shirt number announcement. Nike, like most sports brands, would rather a situation exist where an authentic end-to-end Nike branded experience can be communicated to its audience. Until last week that was exactly what happened whenever he stepped out for FC Barcelona. In contrast Ronaldinho now dones the 3 stripes, with limited visibility given to his Nike sponsored boots.

Past rumors within sport marketing circles tell stories of certain brands paying big money to keep their major stars contracted to teams that have endorsement deals with their brand. The ability to control the whole experience is a scenario any sports manufacturer would want, as the ultimate platform to showcase their brand.

I predict the ability to control this seamless experience to become even more of a prevailing trend in the years to come.

check out full US basketball piece here:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/olympics_blog/2008/07/nike-vs-adidas.html

http://www.cnbc.com/id/25513177

Sports brands taking a stance

6 Jun

This appears to be something we are seeing more and more of in the industry.
Adidas announced Wednesday that they are boycotting Australian wool and sheep that have been mulesed.

Mulesing is viewed as an unnecessary way of taking wool from sheep and adidas communicated this in a letter to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in the United States declaring its position on the matter.

Fair play to adidas, they clearly have an agenda which appears to be addressing their production practices and appeal to consumers and their inner desire to do good. Only recently did they announce the grun collection which aims to better the environment by efficiently utilizing the natural resources of this world.

Now a worldwide consumer movement, as they (consumers) demand brands to be transparent and to offer clarity on their stance on certain issues. The sporting goods industry appear to be taking this as a real top of agenda item, reacting fast and with real purpose. Yes, consumers still and will always demand value but they also want a brand ‘with’ values – values that they can relate to in every sense of the word.