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Adidas: We're Beating Nike in the World Cup Brand War


Nike may be tooting its horn about the brand awareness buzz it's stirring up as part of the World Cup, but Adidas has just fired back in the war of words with some hard figures: Its sales will near $2 billion from soccer in 2010 alone.

Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer couldn't be more direct: "After the first 10 days it is already clear that this World Cup will be a great success for Adidas. We will not only achieve our ambitious goals in football, we will over-achieve them." And though Nielsen measures that Nike's "official competitor buzz" outranks Adidas's with 30.2% over 14.4%, the fact that Adidas is outfitting 12 of the teams versus Nike's nine seems to be paying off—it's expecting record sales of at least €1.5 billion in its soccer-based markets ($1.85 billion). That's 15% over its last record year in 2008, and 25% up over the 2006 World Cup sales figures.

Adidas has sold 6.5 million replica jerseys, up three million over the 2006 Cup's total. It's also expecting to sell 13 million of the controversial Jabulani soccer balls.

According to Hainer, this reduces the debate about who's the brand winner to something very simple: "No matter how you look at it: In terms of sales, market share and visibility—Adidas is and will remain the leading football brand." The company's press release notes its position as brand leader is consolidated by an NPD-reported market share of 34% overall, with 38% in Europe and over 50% share in markets like Germany and the U.S. Since Adidas is a German company this elevated percentage perhaps isn't surprising, but the fact it's so big in the U.S., which has a relatively small soccer market, is interesting—Adidas' PR effort must have really hit the right emotional chord here. We're also wondering exactly how much it cost Adidas to get its official FIFA sponsor status, since this will tell us whether that $1.85 billion is a worthwhile return on investments.

More than anything else, this demonstrates that the global soccer market is absolutely enormous. The only bigger phenomenon seems to be the dreaded vuvuzela horns—does Adidas sell them?

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