Tag Archives: nike

Can one sponsorship deal destroy over 100 years of brand building?

21 Dec

Arguably the most famous and most successful football brand has recently gave up what made them so special. ‘More than a club’ is what set FC Barcelona apart: it is what they stood for, how their club was ran, how fans connected with the club and each other, and it is how the brand was recognised the world over. It is a powerful idea, and at its most believable, has propelled FC Barca into the upper echelons of sporting power. It has enabled them to stand out, not just in Spain but also on the world stage.

Their recent decision to take a world record sponsorship fee in exchange for shirt exposure has seen them pass over the rights to the sacred jersey. This has meant one of the last remaining traditional assets of the modern game has finally passed over to the money men. Football is not quite the game it once was, and it has not been for some time; commercialization has long been hammering at its purity and former innocent core. What magnifies the importance of this announcement is that Barca were always perceived as, ‘more than a club’, they did things differently, with a purpose and for the purity of the shirt. They are seen as a symbol of Cataluna, with their army of fans entitled to part ownership in the club – as a result the shirt belonged to them . The recent decision to sign over the shirt to the not for profit Qatari Foundation is a final stake in the ever increasing chasm between football supporter and club.

Not much is left that is untouchable anymore in the game of football. The traditions built up over years are almost completely gone. Nothing is untouched by the commercial juggernaut. It seems all we have left are the cathedrals that the clubs call home, but as fans of new builds such as Arsenal will testify, it is not far from becoming an all-out sell off.

Shirts are an obvious source of revenue. For big clubs they are attractive properties, providing vehicles for sponsor partners to gain awareness on big European stages, as well as in domestic competition to create accelerated awareness and activation through the vast media and digital coverage it brings. Barcelona have long been lusted after by the corporate world for their reach and ability to cross national boundaries and transcend beyond their sport into pop culture.

For decades they had managed to maintain what the shirt stood for and kept it special for their fans. Their gesture a few years back to pay UNICEF for the right to wear their logo on the Barca shirts was genius. It proved the point that they where ‘more than a club’, seeing their role far beyond the action on the field, they understood the impact they could play in the world. Their decision to take £25m per season off the Qataris proves that they are just like any another club; the money is useful and it will enable them to continue to compete against their commercially driven rivals. The bigger issue is whether it was worth dismissing the Barca brand for all it’s worth, by striking this deal, ‘more than a club’ is no longer believable. The rich history that took over 100 years to build into this defining thought and propelled Barca above its peers has been seemingly broken down overnight. Unfortunately, that seems to be the shortsighted nature of football management these days.

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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?

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)

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.

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.

Nike – a lesson in how to silence the sceptics

28 Dec

A nice post over at Wolff Olins.

It’s not just Nike’s new product focus which is more in tune with consumers environmental desires, but now their efforts are being noticed by not-for-profit organisations.

As mentioned on this blog before – it makes great business sense to meet head on the issues that consumers are raising. Creating solutions and outcomes that positions your brand positively with its stakeholders.

Step forward Nike…

http://www.wolffolinsblog.com/post/249547320/former-bad-boy-done-good