Adidas, very much an underdog in the category, is continuing its full-court press into the basketball arena today with a campaign featuring NBA stars Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose with the theme "Celebrating basketball as a brotherhood."
The campaign, via 180 Los Angeles, includes a TV spot showing Rose and Howard along with Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady and Josh Smith playing on an ethereal, all-white court with each repeating variations of the sentiment "It's on me..." (For example, "It's on me to rise up.") The ads continue a theme Adidas introduced in 2007 with a campaign featuring Garnett, Billups, Duncan, McGrady, Howard and Gilbert Arenas around the theme "Basketball is a brotherhood."
In addition, six "sharable" clips featuring the players, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from various Adidas events are housed on adidasbasketball.com. 180's sister company, RIOT, handled the digital aspect of the campaign.
The push is the latest effort by Adidas, which has been targeting the basketball segment since the early 90s after largely sitting out the previous decade when Nike came to dominate the sport, a trend that continues to this day. According to SportsOneSource, Adidas has just 2 percent of the basketball category compared to 75 percent for the Nike-owned Brand Jordan and 18 percent for Nike.
Undaunted, Adidas redoubled its efforts this decade when it signed an 11-year global merchandising partnership with the NBA, the Women's National Basketball Association and the NBA Development League in 2006. Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with the NPD Group, said that Adidas' success in basketball will depend largely on how athletes embrace the brand. "One of the challenges of entering a new category is the endorsements and how well the celebrities may help catapult the brand," he said, pointing out that Under Armour was able to penetrate the NFL that way a few years ago. "But being in the top three brands across all [athletic footwear] categories gives them a real opportunity to make a mark."
Matt Powell, a footwear analyst for Princeton Retail Analysis, said that Jordan continues to be a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, but Adidas has a shot at increasing its market share. "It's certainly possible for them to grow when there's so much concentrated in one name," Powell said, referring to market share. Powell added however, that even the top names in the NBA like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett still don't "have the resonance even approaching" Jordan.