Adidas Taps Burrell for Ads

Struggling with declining sales and a change in U.S. marketing leadership, Adidas is reaching beyond lead agency Leagas Delaney for marketing assistance.

Burrell Communications in Chicago was tapped last week to craft a national back-to-school TV campaign, aimed at young urban males, that is slated to run this fall.

Earlier this year, after winning a pitch for the urban-basketball cate gory, Burrell created U.S.-only TV campaigns for the launch of Adidas’ Mad Handle basketball shoe and SLII running shoe. Red Button in Portland, Ore., is creating the global Kobe Bryant basketball shoe campaign.

Adidas America in Portland is focus ing on product and retail-oriented advertising, handing out each campaign on a project basis, sources said. It turned to Burrell “to get closer to the American urban consumer,” said a source. “In the U.S., our products have become more lifestyle oriented.”

Ad spending in the U.S. in 2000 was about $50 million, per CMR.

Tim Delaney, Leagas group CEO, said Burrell’s emerging role is “not a major shift” for Adidas, and it is common for Adidas to adjust global as signments to suit particular regions.

Leagas handles all strategic planning and media duties for the client. It splits creative duties for global campaigns with 180 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Adidas rep said the company has “a continued relationship with Leagas as lead agency.”

Separately, John Kajawa, 39, was named new marketing director of Adidas America, effective this week, replacing Jack Buckner, 39, who is retiring. Kojawa was promoted from Adidas in Canada.

In the first quarter this year, Adidas-Salomon AG’s net income fell 12 percent during the same period last year, and U.S. sales slumped 6 percent. Sources said the Adidas brand remains No. 2 behind Nike in the U.S., but has had problems in the U.S. with product development and distribution, which new management is addressing.