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Volume 10 No. 25

People and Pop Culture

Adidas Group CEO Herbert Hainer offered a wide-ranging Q&A with METRONIEUWS in which he talked about Euro 2012 and its importance to the brand, world sporting events, the direction sportswear is heading and what makes people spend so much money on sneakers.

Q: How important are Euro 2012 and the Olympics to adidas, both as a revenue source and a brand platform?
Hainer: Both are important because they have huge exposure around the world. Many million people will watch them, which makes them a great platform for our brand. But from the commercial perspective, they’re two different animals. The European Championship in football is a very good commercial opportunity because we’re the sponsor and outfitter of UEFA. The Olympic Games allow us to showcase our brand, to show that we’re the Olympic and performance brand and equip many different sports and athletes, but it doesn’t have an immediate commercial impact.

Q: What, from your perspective, will count as a success in Euro 2012 and the London Olympics?
Hainer: I hope two of our teams will make it to the European Championships final. That would give us additional opportunities, because people across Europe would get excited as well. But as far as I’m concerned, both the Olympics and Euro 2012 are already a success, because the products are selling well.

Q: What does it tell you about society when spectators will buy expensive jerseys of their national or club team? It doesn't make any logical sense that one buys the shirt just because one watches a game…
Hainer: I’m obviously not a psychologist, but my opinion is that people want to belong to somebody, to a family. The football club is to a certain extent a family. That has been the case for the past 50 years. You have always had die-hard fans who follow their teams and travel huge distances to watch them. They do it even though it might be a huge hassle and they might end up seeing a bad game in the rain. But they have this feeling of belonging. And nowadays, and that is a difference to the past, they also express that feeling by wearing the team shirt to express to the public, “I’m a fan of the team. I belong to this family.”

Q: Will smart shoes and shirts solve the global obesity problem?
Hainer: One of the reasons I’m very optimistic about the sporting goods industry is related to the fact that today more people are conscious about a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, we see obesity all over the world, even among children, and even in China. Twenty years ago that would have been hard to imagine. To fix this, we have to get people to move their bodies more, and that will obviously help our industry as well. Of course that is not the only problem -- they have to eat healthier as well. But doing sports is extremely important.

Q: So, in other words, what’s good for adidas is good for the world’s health?
Hainer: I’d say it the other way around: What’s good for the world population is good for us.

Q: Clothing chains compete by setting prices as low as possible, but people pay $80 for a pair of your shoes. What’s the secret?
Hainer: The consumer doesn’t pay $80 without thinking. You have to give him a reason. Over the past 30 years or so we’ve built up a lot of credibility, and products that we deliver to consumers have never disappointed them. For credibility consumers are willing to pay a bit more.

Q: You’re a football fan. How do you think goal-line technology will impact football?
Hainer: Referees need technical support to decide whether the ball was in or not, and to be honest, a technological solution will come one day, no matter what. A goal can decide a game, and the difference between a winner and loser can decide about millions of Euros. Goal-line technology would protect referees, too; they can’t see everything if there are five people crawling on the line and the ball is somewhere between them (METRONIEUWS, 6/13).

The Parisian police have identified the employee who confessed to having stolen RAFAEL NADAL's watch from his hotel room. After confessing, the thief took the police to the location where he had hidden the watch (MARCA, 6/13). ...  The EFE reported that Nadal's watch was a Richard Mille worth about €300,000 ($374,000). It disappeared from his hotel room at the Melia Royal Alma in the VIII district (EFE, 6/12). ... London 2012 Organising Committee Chair and Beyond Sport Ambassador SEBASTIAN COE will announce the winner of the P&G U.K. Impact Award, in association with the Daily Telegraph, at the Beyond Sport London Reception Wednesday (BEYOND SPORT). ... Former Tour de France winner in '10 and second place finisher last year, ANDY SCHLECK will miss this year's Tour de France due to a spine injury he sustained in a fall last week (L'EQUIPE, 6/13). ... The NBA, FIBA and Japanese Basketball Association announced DIKEMBE MUTOMBO, SAMUEL DALEMBERT and VLADIMIR RADMANOVIC will headline Basketball without Borders Asia (NBA). ... The former Dutch national team and Bayern Munich coach, LOUIS VAN GAAL turned down a TV analyst position for Dutch public broadcaster NOS (ONLINE FOCUS, 6/13). ... Bollywood actress NUPUR MEHTA, who was linked to cricket match-fixing allegations by The Sunday Times said that she was "quizzed for two and a half hours by the sport's governing body." She has denied any wrongdoing (AFP, 6/13). ... Former Chelsea player DIDIER DROGBA will coach in an exhibition T20 football match against Indian cricket captain MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI in New Delhi on June 17. Drogba will coach the national winners of the Pepsi T20 amateur football tournament against an all-star lineup managed by former Indian football captain BHAICHUNG BHUTIA (GULF NEWS, 6/14). ... The London Times published its list of the 10 sports stars who have made it big in business. Included in the list were: former Scottish rugby player BILL GAMMELL, former star spin bowler PHIL EDMONDS, former Man City striker FRANCIS LEE, former British tennis player DAVID LLOYD, former rugby player ALEX SNOW, former Tottenham Hotspur player RAMON VEGA, former Blackburn Rovers player DAVE WHELAN, former England and British Lions rugby player FRAN COTTON, former rugby union player PAUL CADDICK, and former Olympian hurddler ALAN PASCOE (LONDON TIMES, 6/12).