Adidas meet the NHL? As one of the biggest global athletic fashion brands left the NBA this past spring, many wondered what would be next and what has happened to the German brand. The answer apparently is an approach with several prongs, one of which was the recently announced mega-deal with the Houston Rockets James Harden, helping keeping them in hoops. While reinforcing their college deals and then taking on the NHL from their sister brand Reebok starting in 2017-18.
The new deal speaks volumes for the growth and diversity of the NHL as it does for adidas. The diversity of product and specialty uniforms the NHL can now market to casual fans is way beyond the traditional looks that existed only a few years ago, with big sellers including the popular Winter Classic gear, as well as the upcoming gear for the World Cup of Hockey, which will quickly become a major marketing platform for all things around the sport, especially the personalities of the NHL. That global appeal, along with the NHL’s willingness to experiment with non-traditional looks, can fit well into the global portfolio adidas has with both teams and athletes.
Also somewhere in the mix will be the strategic design, which has already been approved by the NHL for The World Cup of Hockey, to pull in brand logos on uniforms, something which the adidas designs can help accentuate.
Is it the NBA or the NFL? No. However what Adidas has done is to find a malleable and agreeable demo that can speak to a global audience and diversify its lineup with new revenue streams. James Harden fits in that model, albeit at a large financial outlay specifically. The NHL and its global push fits in that model at probably a more efficient price tag, with an upside that both the apparel brand and the league can share in. That doesn’t mean the Reebok was a bad fit for the NHL, it means that the changing tide in apparel was timed well for adidas and its global reach, which can be a big long term strategy success for both growing hockey and for wider promotion of its sports’ rising stars.
Welcome to the ice, adidas.