Adidas Scores Big In Sales And Social Media Growth During The World Cup - Forbes

by Alicia Jessop

Ahead of the World Cup, adidas America’s director of soccer, Ernesto Bruce,noted that the 2014 FIFA World Cup would be the “…largest marketing campaign in the history of adidas soccer.”  In discussing adidas’ retail, marketing and social media strategy, Bruce made one thing clear:  adidas not only expected the teams and players it outfits to win on the field, but for the company to also win on the bottom line.  Germany’s nail biting 1-0 finish over Argentina in the World Cup finals meant more to adidas than seeing every player on the pitch outfitted in its gear, as both Germany and Argentina are adidas federations.  Rather, the match-up between Germany and Argentina was the perfect punctuation for a month of extreme growth both on the pitch and bottom line for adidas.

While debate has raged throughout the World Cup as to which sporting apparel company would see the greatest impact, one thing is certain:  adidas experienced significant growth.  In particular, four federations–Germany, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico–saw significant jersey sales growth.
According to Bruce, adidas has seen sales growth of 45-percent for 2014 over 2013 for Mexico’s jerseys.  He notes that this is significant, as adidas “had retailers who wanted to cancel orders” when the team almost didn’t qualify for the World Cup.  However, he notes that adidas “held strong and didn’t cancel orders or stop production.”  To Bruce, the growth Mexico has seen in its jersey sales is attributed to its “fans still supporting the team, no matter what.”
Although Colombia was not an adidas team for the 2010 World Cup, adidas is happy with the growth of its jersey sales.  ”Colombia has been a huge surprise.  The way we measure their sales is by comparing them to France, which is a team we had in 2010 that we no longer have.  We’ve sold 60-percent more Colombia jersey sales than we did with France in 2010.  France is a global superpower in the sport and Colombia is relatively unknown, so for them to come in and perform the way they did and sell 60-percent more jerseys is huge,” Bruce said.
While both Mexico and Colombia out-performed adidas’ expectations in jersey sales, Germany and Argentina put up jersey sales numbers that has adidas celebrating.  Since 2010, Argentina’s jersey sales have increased by 60-percent.  ”If we were getting 20-percent growth, we would be very happy,” Bruce noted.  That being said, adidas has to be even more jubilant over Germany’s jersey sales numbers.  Bruce notes that adidas will sell 70-percent more Germany jerseys in the United States than it did during the 2010 World Cup.  ”Germany winning the finals is huge for us.  We are breaking records in sales in terms of Germany jerseys,” Bruce said.
Another product whose sales growth adidas is pleased with is the official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, brazuca.  For starters, the Twitter following of @brazuca grew by 603-percent over the course of the World Cup, leaving the ball with an impressive Twitter following of 2.98 million people by the tournament’s end.  ”It’s crazy for a ball to have that many followers.  It took fans into unique places around Brazil that they otherwise couldn’t go.  From a marketing standpoint, it was great,” Bruce noted.
Yet, while adidas celebrates the social media feats of the brazuca, perhaps what it is most excited about is sales of the ball.  According to Bruce, adidas exceeded its financial target for the brazuca and will sell over 14 million brazucas worldwide in 2014.  ”Our U.S. goal was to have around a 15-percent growth from the last World Cup.  We are doubling that with over 30-percent growth on the brazuca.  It’s a huge highlight for us,” Bruce said.
As the debate wages on over which sports apparel company felt the greatest footwear impact during the World Cup, adidas focuses its argument on the performance of its Battle Pack cleats.  When asked how its footwear sales were impacted, Bruce noted, “Things like jersey sales, brazuca sales and the presence of the federations and our players, like Messi, in games lead to footwear sales.”  Adidas also points to the fact that players wearing the F50 scored 46 goals during the World Cup to argue that it was the highest scoring cleat in the tournament.  ”We are still tracking our overall sales.  We don’t have anything to compare it to from 2010 as during the last World Cup, we didn’t have a World Cup inspired product.  Now that the World Cup is over, we are going to commercialize our footwear.  Fans can expect relentless footwear launches,” Bruce explained.
Along with a series of footwear launches lining the rest of 2014, adidas is well under way in strategizing for 2015.  Much of the strategy surrounds how to build and expand upon the ground that the company gained during the World Cup.  The company’s conversations range from how to move forward with the brazuca to how to activate around next year’s Women’s World Cup.  ”We are going to look to continue our momentum.  From a U.S. standpoint, we are going to continue celebrating the World Cup in a huge way.  We are going to capitalize upon that,” Bruce said.