BERLIN, (Reuters) — With Adidas sponsoring both teams in Sunday's World Cup final, the German sportswear brand has declared victory over U.S. rival Nike in the latest round of its battle to remain the biggest global soccer brand.
The two companies dominate a soccer kit industry worth more than $5 billion a year, sharing more than 80 percent of the market for many products, but Nike has been threatening Adidas' leadership, including in its home territory of western Europe.
While Adidas has supplied the match ball for the World Cup since 1970, Nike kitted out more teams at the competition in Brazil for the first time, 10 out of the 32 teams including the hosts, compared with nine for Adidas.
However, the three stripes of Adidas will dominate the pitch on Sunday, on both teams' jerseys for the first time since 1990 and on many of their star players' boots as well as the match officials' clothing and the ball.
"Adidas will be the most visible brand by far in the World Cup final," said Chief Executive Herbert Hainer, who had predicted a Germany-Argentina final well before the two teams beat Nike-backed Brazil and the Netherlands in the semis.
"We are once again underlining our position as the world's leading football brand. Adidas is the clear number one in football globally," Hainer added in a statement.
It is not clear how long that will last.
Adidas expects record soccer sales of $2.7 billion in 2014, topping the $2.3 billion Nike reported for its financial year to end May. While the periods are not directly comparable, Nike has suggested the U.S. firm could exceed the Adidas figure for 2014 in its fiscal 2014/15.
Despite the fact Nike teams did not make the final, the Portland-based firm which has only been a serious player in soccer since the World Cup was held in the United States in 1994, sees no sign of growth in soccer slowing down.
Chief Executive Mark Parker says Nike has already overtaken Adidas in boot sales in most countries and predicts a repeat in the current fiscal year of the 21 percent rise in soccer sales the company saw in 2013/14.
"The United States offers huge potential in particular, enthusiasm for football is there in any case. And in China there are tremendous growth opportunities," Parker told Germany's Handelsblatt daily in an interview published on Wednesday.
The determination of Adidas to stay ahead in the sport is set to be underlined by a pricey long-term kit supply deal it is expected to seal with English soccer club Manchester United , replacing Nike.
Adidas shares, hit in recent months by exposure to Russia and other volatile emerging markets, fell to a 16-month low on Wednesday on concerns around the price of the Manchester United deal. The stock was down 0.8 percent by 1106 GMT.
"The possible deal with Manchester United would lead to rising marketing costs and the profit dynamism of Adidas is also weak," said Warburg Research analyst Joerg Frey.
Adidas, whose sponsorship of each World Cup is estimated to cost about $100 million, predicted a "modest increase" in sales and marketing costs in 2014 due to the competition, without giving figures. Nike said total marketing expenses rose 36 percent to $876 million in the quarter to end May, mainly due to expenditure related to the World Cup, with an executive predicting a rise of 30 percent in the current quarter too. BOOT BATTLEGROUND
The German company, which was founded by shoe maker Adi Dassler in 1949, admits it faces a "head-to-head" race with Nike in the boot business, but has predicted it would sell 2 million pairs of the special shoes it designed for the World Cup with striking black and white patterns. Nike has not given a forecast for World Cup boot or shirt sales.
According to sports app theScore, players wearing the Adidas boots scored 78 of the 166 World Cup goals so far, not counting penalties, including five of Germany's seven semi-final goals against Brazil. Nike players scored 73 and other brands 15.
Adidas players dominate the list of top World Cup scorers, including Colombia's James Rodriguez, Argentina's Lionel Messi and Thomas Mueller and Andre Schuerrle of Germany.
Brazil's Neymar, who Nike provided with golden boots from the second round, was also a big scorer but missed the semi-final due to a serious back injury. Other top Nike players like Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Rooney of England had disappointing tournaments.
While most national team jerseys are sold ahead of the World Cup or in the early stages, Euromonitor's Kondej said Brazil's failure to reach the final could dampen Nike sales of Brazil shirts both in the host nation and abroad in coming months.
Adidas said it expected to sell more than 8 million World Cup shirts, including more than 2 million of the Germany jersey, with more than half a million of those sold outside Europe.
Adidas and Nike have also fought a fierce battle off the pitch to grab attention on social media, with Adidas setting up a "newsroom" in Rio to generate real-time content after Nike dominated unofficial marketing at the 2010 competition.
While Nike started the competition with more hits for its videos and posts, Adidas has pulled ahead in the last two weeks, with Adidas scoring nine million views for its clips on YouTube to three million for Nike, according to marketing intelligence firm Origami Logic, which advises big brands on social media.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)