SBD/Issue 14/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Adidas' Herbert Hainer Discusses Sports Licensing, Sponsorships

Hainer Expects Adidas To
Grow In Non-World Cup Year

CNBC.com's Darren Rovell recently sat down with adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer to discuss the "re-energizing of the Reebok brand, the licensing business and the state of the sports and shoe apparel business." Below are excerpts from the Q&A.

Q: You’ve spent a good deal of money on the NBA license. Reebok bought the NFL license before you bought them. What do you think about the licensing business in general?

Hainer: Our NBA license is good because it connects our passion for basketball with fans of teams and the league. We just extended our deal with the MLS because we do believe that soccer in the country is gaining. Twenty five million people watched the World Cup final. Reebok hasn’t done as much as it could have done with the NFL before we came along.

Q: The NFL license is up at the end of next year, but we’re supposed to find out before the end of this year who the apparel partner will be. Are you bidding as Adidas or Reebok?

Hainer: I can’t say which brand, but I can say that we have participated in the NFL’s open bidding process. We decided how much we were willing to pay. We think it’s reasonable and our intention is to try to keep the NFL as a property. But if somebody bids higher than us then we’ll accept that. We expect to hear by the end of October.

Q: You recently said that you believe that you will grow in the next year. Is that possible in a non-World Cup/Olympics year?

Hainer: Yes it is possible and we’ll do it first and foremost by continuing to bring product concepts to life. Our business is sold six months in advance, so I know how we’re doing and it’s quite encouraging. If you look back in our history, 2003, 2005, 2007 -- the in-between years when there isn’t a World Cup or Olympics -- we’ve focused on product concepts and technologies more in those years and it has driven market share.

Q: You obviously have the Reebok and TaylorMade brands. Are there any smaller companies that you have your eyes on acquiring?

Hainer: Not at the moment. We think Reebok has huge potential and adidas is obviously all over the world, so we think our best strategy right now is to focus on our existing brands (CNBC.com, 9/29).

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