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In Olympics race, Adidas pursues edge in new sports

Berlin, December 08, 2023, The Europe Today: As sportswear rivals jockey for position ahead of next year’s Paris Olympics, Adidas is aiming to stamp its brand on smaller events such as breaking, climbing, skateboarding and BMX.

After a high-profile fallout with Ye, the artist previously known as Kanye West, ended its highly profitable Yeezy shoe line, Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden is seeking to reboot its image.

And the Olympics are a key arena for the global sportswear giants that spend millions sponsoring athletes, sports federations and national teams, as well as on event marketing.

A shift back to sports rather than celebrities is a key part of a game plan by Gulden, who took over as Adidas CEO at the start of 2023, to turn around its fortunes – a tactic which will face its biggest international test at Paris 2024.

“For whatever reason the old strategy here was to focus more deeply on fewer sports, and I’m the opposite, I want Adidas again to be in the smaller sports and to be visible,” he said.

“Focusing only on the four or five biggest sports is, first of all too easy, and it’s stupid to be honest,” he added in an interview at Adidas’ headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany.

A successful Olympics is a must if Adidas is to win back market share it has lost to rivals over the past four years and reward investors who are pinning their hopes on Gulden.

Shares in Adidas, the second-largest sportswear group by global market share, are up more than 50% so far this year, outpacing Nike and Puma, after two consecutive years of losses.

While the main focus for Adidas is still on the big Olympic sports like athletics, working on more niche disciplines stretches design teams and generates ideas for more mainstream products like running shoes, Gulden said.

Breaking, which has its origins in hip-hop, also has a streetwear and lifestyle appeal, Gulden said, while offering an opportunity to reach new audiences in key markets such as China, where the newest Olympic sport is popular.