Global Brands oversees the innovation, design, development, and marketing of the company’s sports and lifestyle offerings. By constantly developing desirable products and providing inspiring experiences, the function strives to build a strong image as well as trust and loyalty with consumers to capitalize on growth opportunities in the sporting goods industry.
The adidas brand
The adidas brand has a long history and deep-rooted connection with sport. We believe that through sport, we have the power to change lives. This is our purpose, and we live it every day by expanding the limits of human possibilities, including and uniting people in sport and creating a more sustainable world. For us to continue to transcend cultures and remain one of the most recognized and iconic brands, on and off the field of play, we need to maintain credibility. This means delivering groundbreaking innovations in sports, as well as cutting-edge fashion items that are culturally relevant. We are continuously sharpening our edges of adidas ‘Performance’ and ‘Lifestyle’ and therefore have introduced our new ‘Sportswear’ proposition as a part of adidas’ updated brand architecture.
For over 70 years, we have innovated for sports. The performance logo therefore represents the product built for our athletes, helping them to perform at their best inside the lines of the playing field. ‘Performance’ products are built from sport and worn for sport. On the other hand, adidas Originals caters to lifestyle in a futuristic way and is motivated by the collective memory of sports. adidas Originals represents brand classics and new visionary designs. The brand with the iconic Trefoil celebrates products that connect to culture, leveraging our archive, and expanding into new premium and luxury segments. Lastly, our newest addition ‘Sportswear,’ is built for everyone. It is born from sport and worn for style. Sportswear provides everyday products that redefine comfort, versatility, and aesthetics, with the first collection launched in 2022.
Franchises as lighthouses for our brand
We believe that brand perception is largely influenced by footwear and has the potential to drive consumer desire among product categories, a lever for growing market share. An archive that is unrivaled in the industry, cutting-edge technological breakthroughs, and access to fundamental athlete insights provide plenty of opportunities to create newness in footwear and push the industry boundaries. Franchises are one of our strategic priorities with the ambition to focus and reduce the number of footwear models overall. Simply put, franchises are our most iconic symbols of sport and culture acting as lighthouses for our brand. They represent the very best of adidas, influencing not only sport but also culture, reimagining the notions of performance and lifestyle footwear while contributing to building our brand equity. Through uncompromised functionality, iconic design markers, and unique stories they are clearly targeted toward the consumer and have the potential to be iterated over time to preserve desirability. Their life cycles are also diligently managed to maintain consumer relevance and commercial longevity. Key footwear franchises for the adidas brand include, among others, Superstar, Stan Smith, Samba, Ultraboost, and NMD. In 2022, key footwear franchises represented almost 33% of the brands footwear business. On the apparel side, adidas manages a portfolio of franchises including the Tiro Pant, MyShelter Jacket, and the Z.N.E. Hoodie.
Brand desirability fueled by innovation and collaborations
Innovation is a key enabler for success in our industry. We are applying an innovative mindset to all aspects of our business – from creation to consumer, in order to create tangible proof points of our credibility, elevate experiences, and push the boundaries in sustainability. In addition to leveraging iconic product franchises, creating innovative concepts to meet the needs of athletes and consumers is a prerequisite to strengthening our market position and a premise to being the best sports brand in the world. We remain highly committed to maintaining a full and innovative concept pipeline to drive our credibility in performance and achieve what´s best for the athlete. We aim to bring new groundbreaking technologies and processes to life, investing in sustainability, and exploring all the possibilities of digitalization. Our key technology platforms Boost, Lightstrike, Repetitor, 4D, and Strung are proof points for our broader innovation approach. We bring functionality and meaning together, where we work on nothing but experientially focused examples of elevated human performance. We invest in manufacturing techniques and new technologies aiming to address deeply understood athlete challenges.
We also collaborate with athletes and consumers, universities, and innovative companies, as well as national and international governments and research organizations. We are enhancing our innovative collaboration with both our established partners such as BASF and Carbon, while simultaneously seeking out new partnership opportunities with brands sharing our sustainability mission, such as Infinited Fiber Company.
Commercialization of innovations
We believe developing industry-leading technologies, materials, and consumer experiences is only one aspect of being an innovative leader. Equally important is the successful commercialization of those innovative concepts.
We have a long heritage of innovation and strive to provide athletes with the best by creating high-performance, competitive products. In 2022, we continued to serve consumers with innovative technologies, materials and sustainable concepts built into our products:
- ‘Bra Revolution’: Sports bras are among the most essential workout pieces, but many women aren’t wearing the right size. That is why we have redesigned our entire bra line with 43 new styles in 72 sizes to fit more bodies and workouts than ever before. In February 2022, we launched the ‘Bra Revolution’ campaign which was the biggest campaign activation for Training in 2022. Using the latest material and design innovations, the new collection features training bras, studio bras, everyday bras, and running bras.
- Adizero Prime x Strung: Our first ever Adizero running shoe with a ’Strung’ upper. Strung is a textile innovation that transforms athlete data into a dynamic material tuned to the athlete's needs. It makes it possible to map and program different fiber properties thread by thread. With a flexible and a lightweight seamless cocoon feel around the foot, Strung helps optimize comfort and supports the athlete on long distance runs. The Strung upper is fused to a Prime X outsole packed with carbon EnergyRODS and three layers of Lightstrike Pro for a responsive run.
- 4DFWD 2: The shoe’s industry-first bowtie-shaped lattice midsole transforms vertical pressure into a horizontal force, designed to move runners in one direction only: forward. With every stride, the new adidas 4DFWD 2 midsole compresses forward, reducing braking forces and transforming the impact energy into forward motion. The result is a smooth ride with less stop-and-go pounding on the pavement. With the 4DFWD 2, we have introduced a new Continental outsole that provides extra grip for a confident run in any weather condition. We also introduced an all-new Primeknit+ and engineered mesh upper construction for an extra supportive and snug fit. Complemented by a new integrated heel counter, Primeknit+ offers a sock-like fit, while areas of engineered mesh provide support exactly where runners need it most. Made with a series of recycled materials, the upper features at least 50% recycled content.
- Adizero Adios Pro 3: The newest addition to the iconic Adizero range, the Adizero Adios Pro 3 is a true testament to the brand’s continued dedication to elevating the performance of runners by helping them push the boundaries of what is possible. Launching in two colorways, the Adizero Adios Pro 3 features EnergyRODS 2.0 embedded in the midsole that run parallel to the metatarsals, Lightstrike Pro foam that provides cushioning and energy return to support runners, a new race-ready upper, and a Continental rubber outsole with traction to help take corners at a fast pace. In addition, the product is made in part with a series of recycled materials. In 2022, half of the twelve major marathons worldwide were won by athletes wearing Adizero.
- ‘Al Rihla' – official match ball of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: ‘Al Rihla' means ‘the journey’ in Arabic and was inspired by the architecture, iconic boats, and flag of Qatar. The ball is designed to support the highest game speeds as it travels faster in flight than any other World Cup ball. Designed from the inside out using data from rigorous testing in adidas labs, wind tunnels, and on the field, Al Rihla offers the highest level of accuracy and reliabilityon the field of play, in part due to its new panel shape and surface textures. Additionally, 1% of all ball net sales in Football will be donated to the Common Goal movement to help drive social change and support grassroots football communities worldwide.
- adidas by Stella McCartney – ‘Made To Be Remade’ capsule: The ‘Made To Be Remade’ program is adidas’ first approach to delivering the potential of circular fashion, following the launch of its Futurecraft.Loop shoe in 2019 – an early prototype of circular footwear. The adidas by Stella McCartney garment, launched in 2022, is the latest milestone demonstrating the successful implementation of the entire value chain to produce a commercial end-of-life garment. Joining forces with leading names and innovators in the fashion industry to create, test, and innovate, theadidas by Stella McCartney tracksuit forms the pinnacle expression of the brand’s pilot circularity program ‘Made To Be Remade,’ a take-back program that allows consumers to wear down products and then return them by scanning a QR code on the product for it to be remade.
Beyond innovative technologies, sustainable concepts and materials, key products, and collaborations of the 2022 business year include:
- adidas x Gucci: Originally debuting on the ‘Exquisite Gucci’ runway, the first adidas x Gucci collection dropped in June 2022 in select Gucci stores, dedicated pop-up stores and digital channels such as the adidas Confirmed app. The collection expands on the creative concept founded on an affinity for the three stripes. Reflecting a shared commitment to innovation, progress, sustainability goals, and collective action, the collection features multiple pieces crafted with future-conscious material fabrications including polyester, cotton, and viscose.
- adidas NFT wearable collection: adidas Originals unveiled a limited collection of blockchain-based virtual wearables, released as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The collection represented the brand’s first NFT collection of wearables, which is a new, interoperable product category adidas calls ‘Virtual Gear.’ The launch of this 16-piece collection accelerates adidas Originals’ drive towards strengthening its community-based, member-first, and open metaverse strategy. Designed to be worn by virtual avatars, and accessible through a Profile Picture (PFP) dressing tool, every piece within the NFT offering is interoperable with other identity-based projects and worlds. This means that the adidas collection is able to respond and adapt to the emerging metaverse environments, so that the ‘Virtual Gear’ is ready for all dimensions of Web3.
- adidas x Calm: On World Mental Health Day, adidas announced a new partnership with ‘Calm,’ the world’s leading mental health platform. The two brands are uniting with the ambition of progressing sports performance by supporting mental well-being. The partnership will kick off as a pilot in the UK and US, with adiClub members able to redeem points to unlock Calm Premium services. There will also be a specially tailored set of Calm-created content available to all global users, curated by adidas and aligned to supporting sports performance. The initial collaboration will be based on the concept of ‘Rest. Restore. Perform.’ with the practice of mindfulness and mental fitness helping to strengthen how athletes of all levels perform. In the longer term, the aim is to explore a range of co-created, unique, and experience-based benefits for adiClub members, as well as a broader integration of the two brands’ digital ecosystems.
- adidas x Soul Cap: adidas announces its first swim cap made in partnership with London-based start-up ’Soul Cap.’ This collaboration – which follows last summer’s launch of adidas’ full-coverage and inclusive sizing swimwear ranges – is part of the brand’s ongoing commitment to make water sports more accessible. adidas and Soul Cap share the belief that sports belongs to everyone and participation is possible for everyone. By offering a swimwear product suitable for a range of hairstyles, the brands are joining efforts on their quest to increase access and inclusivity to swimming.
Impactful and effective marketing investments
An additional important building block of creating brand desirability and winning the consumer are our marketing investments. adidas is focused on creating inspirational and innovative concepts that drive consumer advocacy, build brand equity, and drive demand for our products. The company historically spends almost half of its marketing investment on partners, with the remainder spent on brand marketing activities such as digital, advertising, point-of-sale, and grassroots activations. In addition, the company continues its efforts to further consolidate and focus resources to create powerful brand statements overarching several categories under one narrative, amplified and orchestrated via an overarching media strategy with clear roles for the different activation levels of story and content. The ambition is to have a fully connected marketing funnel, from grabbing consumer attention at the top to driving consideration in the middle of the funnel when consumers are in the buying phase down to conversion at the point of sale at the bottom of the funnel. To holistically address the entire marketing funnel, adidas is active in four dimensions:
- Brand campaigns: The highest expression of the brand which drives visibility, desire, and commercial demand by reinforcing our brand attitude with bold, relevant, and recent (consumer-centric) storytelling
- Brand moments: Deliver a strong brand point of view through targeted sport and culture moments to amplify brand attitude and reinforce our purpose
- Category activation: Strengthen sport and culture credibility by sharpening label and category propositions through product story, sport/culture moments, partner activation, hype drops, and commercial activation
- Commercial conversion: Drive conversion and consistency at the point-of-sale (in-store and online) to support cross-category commercial partnerships and ‘evergreen’ key items through delivery of seasonal, modular toolkits
From building awareness and brand heat all the way down to deliberate point-of-sale experiences, the 2022 brand marketing plan showcased a variety of activations at all levels of the marketing funnel:
- ‘I’mPossible’: In the first quarter of 2022, adidas continued its ‘Impossible is Nothing’ story with the announcement of its biggest ever commitment to women: ‘I’mPossible.’ Driven by its company purpose ‘Through sport, we have the power to change lives,’ the brand released a fully integrated campaign to launch major new women-focused product innovations, including the most inclusive bra range to date, alongside enhanced support for established and emerging athletes, and new grassroots programs. The campaign spotlighted a global collective of inspiring women who are breaking down barriers in sport and beyond. In addition to the new collection of sports bras, the campaign also featured Ultraboost 22, a running shoe built to address differences between male and female instep height, heel anatomy and gait cycle trend.
- Run for the Oceans (‘RFTO’): Under the umbrella of ‘Together, impossible is nothing,’ we continued to elevate our purpose to help end plastic waste with the fifth edition of the ‘Run for the Oceans’ (RFTO) in May 2022. Compared to previous years, RFTO 2022 included more sports activities such as tennis, football, and wheelchair movement. The goal was to encourage global sporting communities and motivate nine million participants to collect 250 million active minutes by June 8, 2022, World Oceans Day. For every ten minutes of movement, adidas together with Parley, pledged to cleaning up the equivalent weight of one plastic bottle – up to a maximum of 250,000 kg.
- X-Speedportal: A highlight in summer was the launch of the new X-Speedportal football boot, the latest innovation from the adidas’ X-Speed boot franchise designed for players to enjoy acceleration while providing grip for movement in any direction. For the marketing campaign, adidas teamed up with Emmy award-winning animated comedy series ‘Rick and Morty.’ The campaign launched with a 90-second film featuring football players Mohamed Salah and Vivianne Miedema, as well as Rick and Morty. The film drove great awareness across all our channels – social, PR, digital, and retail. Among others, football clubs Arsenal London and Manchester United supported the campaign on social channels.
- Members Week: Building on the success of ‘Members Week 2021,’ we held this week-long digital festival twice in 2022 to celebrate the best of adidas, bringing some of the biggest product collaborations to consumers. During Members Week in April, many raffle opportunities were offered to members to win exclusive products and experiences. Items included, among others, a personalized workout plan from our adidas Runners coaches across the world or the chance to win the official World Cup match ball. The Members Week in October was kicked off with the Black Panther product pack drop exclusively for members in collaboration with Disney, as well as the Embroidery pack allowing members to express their style with a new adidas classic apparel collection and the launch of the Authentic Balance product pack celebrating training moments. Synced with Members Week, the event was extended to the Confirmed app to give the sneakerheads and streetwear community a chance to redeem points to access a Golden Ticket to secure their next hype drop. Members were eligible to win tickets to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as well as many other relevant local experiences driven by the markets.
- Impossible is Nothing: Rounding up 2022 with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 set the stage for another chapter of ‘Impossible is Nothing,’ where adidas launched a month-long campaign, bringing its iconic brand partners together for a one-of-a-kind ‘family reunion.’ The campaign featured Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema, Achraf Hakimi, Son Heung-Min, Jude Bellingham, Pedro ‘Pedri’ González López, Serge Gnabry as well as musician Stormzy. adidas was the most talked about brand at the World Cup by reaching over one million social conversations. The Impossible is Nothing World Cup brand campaign was the most watched adidas campaign of all time reaching 2.3 billion video views overall. Furthermore, Lionel Messi’s post after the World Cup final of him lifting the trophy and wearing the home jersey of Argentina became the most-liked Instagram content piece of all time.
In terms of partners and athletes, while being conscious of overall marketing spend, we will continue to bring our products to the biggest stages in the world through:
- Events with global reach: FIFA World Cup (men’s and women’s), UEFA Champions League (men’s and women’s), as well as new partnerships with race organizer ‘Atlanta Track Club,’ and the Brooklyn, Cape Town, and Rio Marathons. Along with the world-renowned Boston, Mexico City, and Berlin Marathons, these events provide an important link to running consumers.
- High-profile teams: National association football teams of Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and Spain, as well as top football clubs such as Arsenal London, F.C. Bayern Munich, Flamengo Rio de Janeiro, Juventus Turin, Manchester United and Real Madrid, the New Zealand All Blacks in rugby, national Olympic associations such as the British Olympic Association and German Olympic Sports Confederation, as well as American universities such as the University of Miami, Arizona State University, University of Washington, and Texas A&M University.
- High-profile individuals: Football stars Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema, Mo Salah, Paul Pogba, Pedro González López, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Serge Gnabry, Manuel Neuer, Jude Bellingham, Heung-min Son, Vivianne Miedema, Wendie Renard and Jürgen Klopp; basketball stars Candace Parker, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, James Harden, Trae Young, and Derrick Rose; American football players Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Trevor Lawrence; tennis players Félix Auger-Aliassime, Maria Sakkari, Jessica Pegula, Garbiñe Muguruza, Alexander Zverev, Elena Rybakina, and Stefanos Tsitsipas; alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin; outdoor athletes Sasha DiGiulian and Danny MacAskill; track and field athletes Noah Lyles and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, as well as marathon runner Evans Chebet.
- Cultural marketing partners: Anitta, Bad Bunny, Beyoncé, Blackpink, Craig Green, Deepika Padukone, Ding Yun Zhang, Dinos (Jules Jomby), Grace Wales Bonner, HoYeon Jung, Jay Park, Jeremy Scott, Jerry Lorenzo, Karlie Kloss, Léna Mahfouf, Lena Waithe, Lous and the Yakuza, Pharrell Williams, Sean Wotherspoon, and Stormzy.