06 AUG 2013 Feature Moscow, Russia

IAAF’s partnership with adidas set to feature again at World Championships

Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon 800m at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin (Getty Images)Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon 800m at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin (Getty Images) © Copyright

As an official partner of the IAAF, expect the ‘3-Stripes’ of adidas to be prominent, not only inside the Luzhniki Stadium, but also across the city of Moscow during the duration of the World Championships.

The sports clothing giant will be a visible presence through its many and varied contracts with world-class athletes, as well as through its kit supplied to a core number of leading athletics federations.

Meanwhile, the thousands of volunteers working in a range of roles across the Russian capital will also wear adidas clothing, and merchandising rights – provided as part of the contract – will be fully utilised by adidas.

Spencer Nel, Head of GSM Running/Track and Field, believes the benefits of being closely associated with a global event – expected to attract a total TV audience of six billion – is wide-reaching and of incalculable value.

“It has benefits from a pure event perspective in that as a sponsor, it brings us access to tickets and corporate hospitality which help cover our needs across the market,” he explains. “The event also brings with it the rights to put up billboards and exposure in the stadium in terms of video and the number of federations we sponsor (and provide kit for), so we get that added brand exposure.”

Yet Nel, a quick-talking South African, also believes adidas’s close relationship with the World Championships can have a significant impact in several other areas.

”It (the World Championships) helps us re-energise the business within that market,” he explains. “It gives us the chance to take a product and get it closer to the retailer. We have merchandising rights around the event and this gives us another added benefit.”

Tailoring their strategy to meet individual demands of the host city, adidas hope to tap into the emerging – and potentially large – running market in Moscow.

Back in June, they organised a 10km road race in the Russian capital. The city and the country could produce a whole new frontier for their sportswear products.

“Moscow has a young running market, which is not like your traditional running market,” Nel explains. “If you go back five years we found road races were not that well attended, but that has started to mature. We see the World Championships as a chance to get that consumer to turn to running.”  

Central to adidas’s approach will be product promotion. At the previous edition of the World Championships in Daegu their adiZero range was prominent. In Moscow, a new product, the Energy Boost running shoe built with a foam which provides “the highest energy return in the running industry” will be to the fore. 

“Our athletes have reacted unbelievably well to the introduction of this,” explains Nel. “We launched a couple of models back in February, but hope to have at least four models available by the World Championships.”

adidas also hope to bring added exposure to its range through the use of its key athletes. Since the 2009 Berlin World Championships, adidas have proactively promoted a ‘Super Seven’ of their most high-profile competitors to heighten awareness of their products.

Across the city of Moscow expect their key symbols – which include the likes of hurdler Sally Pearson, high jumper Blanka Vlasic and Kenyan 800m World record-holder David Rudisha – to be supporting adidas across a number of initiatives.

adidas also hope to gain traction by providing kit to a select number of member federations. The company has adopted a more streamlined approach for the 2013 World Championships, but will service the sportswear needs of the Great Britain, Ethiopian and South African teams among others and Nel says this has clear benefits.

“It brings us an investment opportunity within that market and also brand exposure,” he says. “Our key federations bring different needs. Ethiopia, with whom we have had a long, proud history, brings an exposure to middle and long distances. Working with British Athletics brings us closer to a number of our symbols, like Jess Ennis.”

As an official partner of the IAAF, adidas will also be tasked with kitting out the volunteers. Everyone from the officials to the drivers and stadium and press centre volunteers will be wearing everything from socks to caps and t-shirts to backpacks with adidas branding.

Nel says the kitting out process can be a complicated task and takes 18 months to two years of planning, but again it provides genuine value to the sportswear giants.

“It gives us a great opportunity to exercise one of the rights of our contract,” he says. “It is simplistic brand exposure.”

There is little doubt in Nel’s mind that being so closely related with such an iconic event, which is expected to attract around 2000 athletes from more than 200 countries, is overwhelmingly positive.

”Moscow will give us the chance to show who we are and what we are all about,” says Nel. “In the end it comes down to the event itself. Our mission is to provide the best product to our athletes to make them better and help them reach our goals. We are very proud to be connected with the IAAF World Championships and are looking forward to getting this show on the road.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF