Why Arsenal should go with adidas

Why Arsenal should go with adidas


I saw this article on a popular Arsenal FC blog, where they quite smartly put 2 and 2 together and came up with 4.

Simon Lilley’s appointment as Head of Retail at the club and his cookie crumb trail back to his strong adidas roots is a good look.

“Having garnered ten years experience working for Adidas, he’s more recently worked for UEFA, where he consolidated Adidas’ position as a global sponsor, and for LOCOG, for whom he was Head of Licensing and Retail – a position which again saw him strengthen Olympic ties with the “The Brand with 3 Stripes.”

I remember attending a conference where one of the current Arsenal Directors was literally foaming at the structure of the kit deal they had with Nike.

He said something like “We basically buy the shirts…” – that stayed with me forever. Football fans are mostly unaware of the runnings of their club, especially when it is privately owned and operated – but it’s fairly common to assume that kit providers/sponsors pay a premium to provide the shorts and shirts for football clubs.

I want to go in a different direction with this however.

Culturally, I think it would be a genius move to make the switch.


Nike’s now the defacto no.1 in Premiership brand terms, they’re probably still No.1 in the

world too. They’ve developed football brand communication that is fresh, exciting and slick.

All those reasons are why it could be adidas’ time. Football isn’t always Cristiano fake tan and muscles – it’s also the unheralded, unfancied, underappreciated work of Xavi Hernandez. Being flashy in football does not mean that you’ll be the most respected. The simple pass, the first touch, the neat trap still get applause from the crowd.

Those qualities appear to be more Dassler than Bowerman – especially to the fans and consumers.

Also when Nike first ‘burst’ into the club kit world, they felt special and still very maverick (especially with the footballs in the Prem and La Liga).

Now, with a plethora of clubs wearing the ‘Swoosh’, Nike kits don’t feel that special.

This season Everton joined the Premiership ranks, next year Manchester City ditches Umbro for the parent label…soon even the English will line up in Nike apparel.

In London over the last 5 years, adidas has steadily risen to become the brand of choice by young people in the city. The 3 stripes can be seen in prominent everyday situations, when worn by young people. Nike, and most prominently, brand Jordan still runs the show from a footwear standpoint – but adidas Originals is definitely coming out tops.

Carried by the vast majority of sports retailers who sell to young people, and the discounted sports stores – it’s not hard to pick up a tracksuit set with the 3 stripes.

Still – it’s the way that the brand has been worn which is responsible for the brand’s success in cultural terms.

Young people, local to the club are wearing the 3 stripes with pride.

Arsenal fans will fondly remember the days of Rocastle, Thomas and Davis with pride – quite right too!

In those years (I’m guessing before the term ‘brand association’ was even invented),  adidas shared shirt real estate with JVC, and the team was a successful one – making a reboot even more acceptable.

Quick kit sponsor word association for other fans;

Man United = adidas/Sharp

Spurs = Hummel/Holsten

AC Milan = Lotto/Ope

Liverpool = adidas/Crown Paints

Now, in these days of football commercialism – the impending deal will have been considered from many monetary, marketing and technical angles.

I just hope that someone took a few mins to consider that the fans sometimes don’t think of any of that first!


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