What: The reaction over its Messi sponsorship sets off alarm bells for Adidas.
Why it matters: Because marketing analysts warn that although the German brand sponsors one of the two best soccer players in the world, it has failed to capitalize on that relationship, resulting in ineffective promotion strategies.
When Adidas renewed its sponsorship deal with Leonel Messi, the German multinational began to hear warnings that the famous FC Barcelona player – one of the best in the world – is identified by fans as being sponsored by its competitor Nike, the Barcelona club’s sponsor.
Marketing experts argue that the German brand lacks an effective strategy to take advantage of its relationship with the Argentine player. However, it will remain its technical sponsor over the next few years based on a multi-year agreement whose terms – both financial and duration – have not been revealed.
Neither does Adidas seem to want to comment publicly on fans confusing Messi’s sponsor with Nike. The company’s relationship with Messi goes back many years and will continue for many more, according to comments made by the Argentine player.
Nevertheless, recent results published by the Barómetro del Patrocinio Deportivo 2016 (2016 Sports Sponsorship Barometer), an interesting survey carried out by the Asociación de Marketing de España and the ESADE International School of Business, which is considered an X-ray of sports marketing in Spain, warns of a Adidas-Messi-Nike conflict.
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The report sets forth a comparative study on fan identification of the main sponsoring firms within Spain’s soccer world, detailing the clubs and players they represent and sponsor, and as such is considered a reflection of the success or failure of brands’ strategies to activate their relationship with their sponsorees.
According to the study, based on a Sponsorship Association Index of 100 points, the brand association between Messi and Nike received 71.1 points in the minds of fans, who clearly identify him as Barcelona player. Meanwhile, fans’ association of Messi with Adidas only received 50.81 points.
The opposite happened with Nike and Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo. According to the survey, the activation strategies of the U.S. company are more successful among fans than those of Adidas with Messi.