PORTLAND – The competition on the pitch has yet to start, but the fight over World Cup consumers is already intense – and no more so than between the athletic companies that are jockeying for their once-every-four-years shot at the ever-growing worldwide soccer market.
The players, their boots and kits will be on display for billions across the globe over a monthlong window starting next week. Nike wants to make sure fans notice the swoosh. Adidas? Those three stripes. For Puma it’s that leaping cat.
“It’s the World Cup. It’s do or die. Win or go home,” said Adidas merchandise manager Peter Hong, alluding to more than the on-field competition in Brazil.
The result is going to be an all-out blitz of advertising, social media, personalities and product that goes beyond simply selling jerseys and cleats.
Nike is betting on its stable of stars and a good showing by Brazil. Adidas has the tradition, and they are the official World Cup sponsor through 2030. Puma wants you to remember the boots themselves, putting players on the pitch with different colors on each foot.
Nike is the world’s top athletic footwear, apparel and equipment company, but second-ranked Adidas has always held tightly to the overall soccer market.
In recent years Oregon-based Nike has unabashedly challenged its German rival in the sector and hit nearly $2 billion in soccer-related sales last year. Adidas’ sales last year were estimated at $2.4 billion, but the company is already experiencing a World Cup bump that the company hopes will push it to a record $2.8 billion.
Puma has only about 8 percent of the global soccer market, but that hasn’t stopped the German company from trying to make its own splash at the World Cup. The company has a number of its athletes wearing Puma Tricks, one pink and one blue shoe.