Adidas looks to the World Cup stage

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm •  Published: December 2, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — It's looking quite festive these days at Adidas' North American headquarters, and it has nothing to do with the holiday season.

Brightly colored cleats are on posters, in displays and even just strewn about. The neon shoes are part of the German shoemaker's Samba collection released recently in advance of next summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Adidas is on an all-out marketing blitz with the crowning jewel — the World Cup match ball — to be unveiled on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro. An official sponsor of the World Cup and partner with soccer's international governing body, the company has designed the ball for each one of the tournaments since 1970.

The spirits around Adidas are as bright as their shoes. After all, the company only gets this kind of chance to promote its brand every four years.

"No one knows soccer like Adidas," said Ernesto Bruce, the company's director of soccer.

Adidas trails behind global leader Nike in overall sales of shoes and athletic apparel. However, Adidas has traditionally led when it comes to the soccer market and this year is expected to have record sales of about $2.1 billion. The company estimates that number will jump to $2.8 billion next year.

The last time there was a World Cup, in 2010, Adidas saw its soccer business jump 14 percent.

Nike, which entered the market in 1994, had soccer-related sales of $1.9 billion last year, putting the company right on Adidas' heels. Nike quickly increased its profile by sponsoring the kits for such teams as FC Barcelona and Manchester United. Last month the Beaverton, Ore., company revealed the World Cup kits for the hometown Brazilian team.

Adidas founder Adi Dassler made the company's first pair of soccer cleats in 1925 in Herzogenaurach, Germany. As legend has it, Dassler helped West Germany beat the mighty Hungarians in the 1954 World Cup because of shoes he designed with screw-in studs that aided traction on the rain-slicked pitch.

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