Nike has high hopes for World Cup

26 January 2010

BEAVERTON: Nike, the sportswear giant, is aiming to use the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in South Africa to "showcase" its products and drive engagement with consumers.

Trevor Edwards, vp, global brand and category management, at the company, described its brand as a "combination of being forthright, hard-working, who knows what it wants, but at the same time has the ability to have some fun and levity with it."

The company is supplying various items of kit to a number of teams and players in the World Cup in South Africa, and Edwards said this event provides a range of advantages for the company.

"Everyone is watching these great athletes perform. It's an ideal time to showcase great innovation and product," he said.

"This is the testing, the proving ground, for our product. All the work that we do comes to the forefront at this time."

Its other recent initiatives have included the development of the Nike Football Training Centre, based in Soweto, with the hope of involving around 20,000 young people in this project during its first year of operation alone.

"Right now the world's attention is around football and will be increasingly so," said Edwards, which means these new training facilities are likely to be of particular resonance.

More broadly, soccer is highly popular in many key emerging markets, including Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and South Korea.

The Beaverton-based firm has also previously been involved in sponsorship tie-ups with Roger Federer, the tennis player, Michael Jordan, the basketball legend, and Tiger Woods, the golfer.

As previously reported, the recent high-profile problems in Woods' personal life have posed challenges to the brands associated with the sports star, but Edwards suggested there is always risk involved in this kind of arrangement.

"There's no person in the world that's perfect. At the end of the day we can tell the story, the dimensions of people's lives and how they're really passionate about sport and face forward," he said.

"We get to bring that out. With that, sometimes you have a great day in sport, sometimes you have a challenging day. It goes both ways."

Alongside growing its trademark range, Nike is also placing a heightened emphasis on driving revenues generated by acquisitions like Converse and Umbro, giving these brands more distinct personalities.

"It's a newer strategy for us but we believe it's part of our growth strategy for the future," said Edwards.

Data sourced from Times Live; additional content by Warc staff