SBD/December 4, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Adidas Unveils Brazuca Ball For '14 World Cup, Emphasizes Fix In '10 Design Flaws

adidas shaped the ball's panels much like a series of interconnected boomerangs
adidas yesterday in Rio de Janeiro unveiled its Brazuca soccer ball for the '14 FIFA World Cup "during a flashy event, complete with a light show," according to Nate Scott of USA TODAY. The ball is "composed of six interlocking symmetrical panels, made of a polyurethane casing material, surrounding a latex bladder." To address problems of how the ball travels through the air because of fewer seams, adidas "shaped the panels much like a series of interconnected boomerangs." This "allowed them to have six panels but still plenty of seams, with the hope that the ball flies truer." adidas "faced criticism from players and coaches" during the '10 World Cup for its Jabulani ball, which "had fewer, shallower seams and was extremely light." But to "stem criticism this time," the company "showed the ball to 600 of the world's top players ahead of time, a third of whom" were not adidas endorsers. adidas also "secretly tested the ball in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup (with a different design) and in an exhibition game between Sweden and Argentina in February" (USA TODAY, 12/4). In London, Jack Pitt-Brooke notes adidas' "biggest ambassadors have tried and endorsed" the Brazuca. Argentina F Lionel Messi, England MF Steven Gerrard, and Netherlands F Robin van Persie each "went to the company HQ in Herzogenaurach to do so." The Brazuca is "closer in development" to the popular UEFA Champions League ball and the Tango ball used at '12 UEFA European Championship (London INDEPENDENT, 12/4). In Portland, Matthew Kish writes early reviews of the Brazuca "seem positive." The Brazuca is "the final piece in a string of new products that adidas is banking on for a big boost in global sales." The ball "retails for $160 and is available through the Adidas website" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/3).

BUMPS IN THE ROAD: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Alice Ross notes adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer admitted that the company has "made mistakes and not performed as well as senior executives had hoped." Hainer yesterday said that the environment "'had served up a constant stream of challenges,' including cost pressures, currency swings and a 'persistently weaker' European market." Ross notes adidas is "midway through a five-year plan with the aim of increasing sales" to US$23.1B and "achieving an operating profit margin" of 11% by '15. Hainer said, "After three years, we are not where we thought we would be in terms of the numbers. And to be fair and frank, we have also made a few mistakes.” He added that adidas had "suffered 'bad luck' with injuries among some of the top athletes it sponsors," including Bulls G Derrick Rose. Hainer said that the company "expected to improve its operating margin by about 1 per cent and increase revenues 'at a high single-digit rate' in currency neutral terms" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/4).
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