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Adidas revamps football strategy

News, 13 August 2015

LONDON: They may be fierce rivals on the pitch but Adidas, the sportswear giant, is bringing some of Europe's leading football clubs together and linking them under the #BetheDifference hashtag.

The move is aimed at cementing the brand's focus on teams and gaining ground on Nike which puts its emphasis on individual players.

"Each club has fantastic supporters and our job is to clearly make the clubs' fans Adidas fans," said Steve Marks, Adidas' director of sports marketing for Manchester United.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Juventus are already bringing their own particular interpretations to the marketing strategy, The Drum reported, with Bayern Munich and AC Milan set to follow.

Thus United's take on #BetheDifference, for example, comes through in the strapline 'Break Expectations'. For Real Madrid it is 'Only Perfect Counts', while at Chelsea 'If it's not Blue then it will be' and Juventus declare 'Our Way or No Way'.

This season, Adidas began a ten-year long kit deal with Manchester United worth a record £75m a year and Marks revealed that the new campaign was already paying off as sales of the new shirts, unveiled two weeks ago, had reached the first month's target in just five days.

"Many Adidas retail partners have reported a 200% increase in day one sales compared to last year's kit launch, experiencing phenomenal demand across the globe and declaring the Adidas Manchester United kit launch as the biggest ever launch of replica," said Marks.

Adidas has also moved away from its previous product-driven approach to one led by customer insights and which can sustain a conversational marketing strategy.

Bringing Europe's leading teams together under one hashtag will make it easier to create and maintain conversations at scale.

It should also help reduce costs, something analysts have picked up on. "Adidas is doing fine in western Europe, but they should be as they are spending 14% of their sales on marketing," according to Zuzanna Pusz, an analyst at Berenberg.

"The question is whether this is sustainable," she told the Financial Times. "The average for the industry is between 10% and 11%."

Data sourced from The Drum, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff