GA Trade May-Jun interactive - page 18

S P O T L I G H T S
Adidas vs. Nike
T
raditionally, Germany’s
common view on sports has
been rather simple: Team sport
equals soccer, or football to the
rest of the world outside the U.S.,
and sports equipment equals
Adidas. On the other side of the
Atlantic, baseball, basketball,
football, and hockey are the most
popular American pastimes and
there is one preferred company
that has catered to the athletes’
needs: Nike.
In recent years, however, there has
been a shift in this division of
sports and brands between the
U.S. and Germany. It became as
common for a high school in the
U.S. to have a popular soccer team,
as it became for a German school to
own a basketball court. Other
American sports are on the rise in
Germany as well. Many cities have
professional or semiprofessional
teams, such as FC BayernMunich
Basketball, Allgäu Comets (football),
Untouchables Paderborn (baseball),
and Hamburg Freezers (ice hockey).
And who would have thought that
the Major Soccer League would
become a business withmulti-
million dollar contracts for televi-
sion rights alone?
With the globalization of sports
came the globalization of brands. In
the 1980s, Adidas became known as
a fashion icon in the upcoming hip
hop culture. In the aftermath of Run
DMC’s hit song “My Adidas”, track
suits with the iconic three-stripe
design and Adidas Superstar 80s
shoes were widely seen in U.S.
metropolitan cities. At the same
time, German teens were sporting
Nike’s Dunk basketball sneakers.
The core business of companies
like Adidas and Nike, however, is
not fashion, but high technology
sports equipment. Both started out
producing homemade running shoes,
catering to professional athletes. In
pre-WWII Germany, Adi Dassler and
his later estranged brother and
founder of Puma, Rudi Dassler
developed the first spiked running
shoes, worn by Jesse Owens in the
1936 Olympics. In the 1960s, Bill
Bowerman produced running shoes
for Phillip Knight, employing rubber
pressed in his kitchen’s waffle iron.
Later, the two founded Blue Ribbon
Sports, which became Nike Inc.
At first, Nike’s core competency
stayed with running equipment,
whereas Adidas’ main focus turned
By JanVater, GACC
How the 2014WorldCup Represents
the Battle of the Brands Across the Atlantic
Adidas’ new “BoostCushioning” is the
latest technologyon the runningmarket
AdidasGroupHeadquarters,
Worldof SportsHerzogenaurach, Germany
Photo: Adidas
Photo: Adidas
18
GermanAmerican TradeMay/June 2014
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