One of my sports marketing students wrote this fantastic review of the differences in branding strategies of the big four athletic brands in the U.S. Increasingly, brands like these are utilizing social media data from companies like Affinio to help shape their branding strategies.
Nike's branding of "Just Do It" falls in line with their broad appeal to go out achieve greatness in anything you desire. Whether it is on Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube, Nike constantly advertises its wide array of sporting shoes and merchandise. Their recent videos on YouTube of Short a Guy and Find Your Fast have many scenes dedicated to different sports and physical activities, thus reinforcing their brand image of being able to supply your athletic need no matter what the sport. Nike also incorporates the "cool" look into all types of shoes and merchandise. They capitalize on the fact that many people like to look good while they are performing an activity, which enables them to be part of the mainstream consumer crowd.
Adidas is the closest company to Nike in terms of marketing strategy. The company focuses heavily on soccer and has a wide variety of apparel and accessories. They have struggled in the basketball space. Their top two sponsored players, Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard, have seen drastic decrease in performance over the past few years. When they were initially signed, both of these players were arguably in the top 5 best players in the NBA. After many injuries and disappointing seasons, people in the basketball community do not look fondly on adidas basketball shoes as they correlate the injuries of these two superstars to the footwear and accessories they wear. It seems that adidas has pulled back much of their marketing efforts in the sport of basketball. Adidas has moved outside of the sports market with the development of a new shoe that is made almost entirely from ocean plastic. They hope to attract a new target market with this product - "green" consumers. They also have discussed plans of opening a new factory in Detroit to bring new jobs to the city. They hope to use the projects to win hearts and minds of the people in that part of the country and hopefully influence them to buy from them.
Reebok mostly brands itself as specializing in exercise and fitness. CrossFit is their main selling point, as it provides everybody with a chance to compete and perform in the activity no matter what the age. They realized the market for the ever-expanding fitness craze was there for the taking and they seized the opportunity. Being as many people do not know of CrossFit competitors, they realized they needed somebody to represent their image that had similar objectives. This is where Reebok signed Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones. Both of these people are fighters in the UFC and Reebok realized that the same training that the fighters of MMA do compares to the training of many fitness and CrossFit participants.
Under Armour is a brand that focuses heavily on football. If one thinks of a brand associated with high school football, then you are probably going to think of Under Armour. They are currently seeking to expand into other sports and recently signed NBA superstar Stephen Curry. They hope to break into the NBA scene and occupy the space left by adidas. Their base marketing message seeks to "pump up" the viewer and get them motivated to compete. Their commercials and ads have a gritty tone to them and they almost always provide a glimpse into motivational training or into an important moment in the game.
This blog post was written by Samford University student Derek Partridge.