Between them, the two companies control about 70% of the soccer gear market, according to this Bloomberg Businessweek article. Nike officially holds the title of being the largest sportswear company in the world, with Adidas coming in a close second. But when it comes to “the beautiful game,” the German brand has historically been the go-to name for cleats, jerseys, and all sorts of gear. Only recently has Nike even become competition; that its even a contest is unacceptable for Adidas.
Started in the 1920 in a small German town by the cobbler Adolf “Adi” Dassler, Adidas (“Adi Das”) has remained true to its founder’s image: a workshop designing quality gear for the world’s best athletes. Adi’s son was the first to pioneer the practice of giving athlete’s shoes and jersey’s carrying the brand’s logo. Ultimately, this lead to it becoming the World Cup’s sponsor in 1970, a title it’s set to keep until 2030, and the reason it dominated the soccer market for so long. Take a look as you watch any of the games, and you’ll be sure not to miss the iconic three stripes on balls, scoreboards, “boots” and “kits” alike.
Adidas is a company with a long history rooted in soccer, and it held on to its comfortable position controlling the market until Nike came bounding onto the scene in 19994, when the World Cup came to the US. The American sportswear giant has quickly become Adidas most worrisome competition, and today is quickly approaching Adidas-like numbers. In fact, they sell the most soccer cleats in the world. So how did they do it?
Nike does all that Adidas does, sponsoring teams and athletes, supplying them with innovative shoes and supplies, and hoping they win. For Adidas, it’s all about a team with three stripes on their jersey raising the coveted cup. Nike, however, “relies less on reality.”
Keep an eye out as you watch Nike’s commercials this summer: they will be implying the grandeur and excitement of a global arena, without ever explicitly naming the FIFA World Cup. In their marketing campaigns premiered this Spring, Nike recalled simpler times of soccer with nostalgia — a reality that simply did not exist before 1994. It doesn’t quite matter that Adidas is the actual World Cup sponsor, or the brand with history in the sport, who claims it as part of their DNA. Nike has managed to create this image around themselves, and for that, they are reaping the benefits.
Let us know, Soundbytes readers: the summer is just about to heat-up when the World Cup kicks off July 14th. Who will you be rooting for: Adidas or Nike?