Please provide a briefing on Adidas, including everything we need to know about their history, senior leadership, and core product categories.
The Adidas company was founded in Bavaria, Germany in 1924 by Adi Dassler with the goal of providing "athletes with the best possible equipment." Its current CEO is Kasper Rorsted and its core product lines are shoes, apparel, accessories, and customized sports gear. You will find a deep dive of my research below.
As you mentioned in your request, Adidas began in Adi Dassler's mother's washroom in Bavaria Germany. Dassler registered his company's name, Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, in 1924 and began fulfilling his mission to "provide athletes with the best possible equipment." Two athletes that wore Dassler's footwear won gold medals in the 1928 and 1936 Olympics. In 1928, Karoline "Lina" Radke won a gold medal in the "first-ever women's 800-meter competition in world record time" while wearing Dassler's screw-in spike running shoes that he invented in 1925. In 1936, Jesse Owens commissioned handmade spikes from Dassler that helped him win gold medals in 100 meter, 200 meter, 4 x 100 meter relay, and the long jump. It was Owens' performance that "would eventually make the association and establish the need for dedicated sport shoes." Elite athletes wanted to work with Dassler because not only was he an athlete himself, but he also listened to their needs and created products that addressed their concerns with other footwear products on the market at the time.
In 1949, at age 49, Dassler registered a new company, Adi Dassler adidas Sportschuhfabrik, and opened shop with 47 employees in Herzogenaurach, Germany. At the same time, he also registered "Adidas" as the "brand with three stripes," which would become the iconic image associated with the brand from that time on. Three years later, in 1953, Adidas introduced the Adidas sport bag to allow athletes to more conveniently carry their Adidas shoes to and from games and practice.
The Adidas brand really took off in 1954 when members of the German national football team donned Adidas lightweight football shoes with screw-in studs as they defeated the once-unbeatable Hungarian team in the World Cup final. This amazing victory was viewed as a near-miracle and would be "heard around the world for decades to come. And it made Adidas and its founder a household name on football pitches everywhere." A 1954 advertisement for the football boots described the product as being "only half the weight of the orthodox English football boot. Special features of the German boot are the screw-in studs which can be adapted to ground conditions, cut-away ankles, front lacing almost right down to the front of the boot, a soft toe, and foam rubber interior."
Two years after the remarkable German World Cup win, Adidas began advertising its shoes at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and in 1960, Adidas introduced the "Rom training shoe to commemorate the Olympic Games in Rome." These shoes were not only popular with athletes, they also became an "evergreen life style seller" that was sought out by general consumers. By the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, 80% of all athletes were wearing Adidas shoes.
1967 saw the debut of Adidas' first non-shoe product with the unveiling of the Franz Beckenbauer tracksuit, which spurred an entirely new business line for the company. No matter how big Adidas got, though, Dassler remained committed to producing innovative products that would allow athletes to be better versions of themselves. This included meeting with athletes in Herzogenaurach, or wherever in the world they were competing, to learn what products could be improved or even invented.
Adidas continued to expand its business in 1970 when it began producing the TELSTAR soccer ball, which would become the official ball for the 1970 FIFA World Cup. Adidas specifically designed the ball to "improve visibility on black and white TV." This deal would mark the beginning of a long partnership between FIFA and Adidas, as the sports company has provided the Official Match Ball for every World Cup since.
When the Olympics came to Munich, Germany in 1972, Dassler marked the special occasion by designing a new logo that debuted just in time for the event. The Trefoil logo was born and it would remain synonymous with Adidas from that year forward. In addition to a new logo, Adidas also introduced its "'suction-cup' outsole pattern and the wrapped edges of sprint spikes."
Throughout the 1970s, Adidas products spread to cover many other sports, including mountain climbing, gymnastics, and tennis. In 1978, Adi Dassler passed away, leaving the company to his son, Horst, who would continue building the brand through his mastery of marketing. In 1984, Horst showed just how ahead of the times he was when Adidas send the Micropacer shoes to the market. This groundbreaking design featured an embedded computer that would "provide performance statistics" to the athletes wearing the shoes. This system would eventually become known as Adidas' miCoach.
The 1980s continued to be a pop culture dream for Adidas, as rapper Run DMC featured the shoes in his 1986 hit, "My Adidas." Run DMC held the shoes up at a concert attended by 40,000 people and when the company got wind of the unexpected endorsement, it forged a partnership with the singer, marking the first time a non-athlete promoted a sporting good product.
By the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, 124 of the 140 competing nations wore Adidas shoes and/or apparel, with a "total of 259 medals won in products with the three stripes" and trefoil logo. However, trouble was on the horizon with the sudden death of Horst Dassler a year earlier at age 51, leaving the company without a Dassler in charge for the first time in the business' history. "His sisters finally sold the company in 1989 to Bernard Tapie, a roguish French financier, for only $320 million." As part of the sales contract, Tapie agreed to inject $100 million into the firm, but he was so preoccupied with his own political ambitions that he paid little attention to the company as it began to fail. These questionable leadership decisions between 1987 and 1993 caused Adidas' total sales to drop from nearly $2 billion to $1.7 billion and left the company on the brink of bankruptcy, particularly with the rise of another sportswear company called Nike.
Robert Louis-Dreyfus became CEO in 1993 and promptly brought Adidas back to relevancy. Revenues jumped from $1.7 billion to $2.8 billion in 1996, recovering all of the previous years' losses and more. He and his partner Christian Tourres returned the company to its roots of making athletes better, and used a marketing-driven approach to rebuild the brand. In 1995, Adidas went public and made its first acquisition in 1997, when it acquired Salomon Group, which included the brands Salomon, TaylorMade, Mavic, and Bonfire. At that point, the company was rebranded as Adidas-Salomon AG. In 1998, the joined company moved into its new headquarters, a former U.S. Military base located just outside Herzogenaurach, Germany, where it remains today.
The new century brought more changes for the Adidas company, with Herbert Hainer becoming the CEO in 2001. Under his guidance, Adidas continued developing innovative products like "ClimaCool, Adizero, and the F50 football boot." It became the "first in the industry to introduce a new lifestyle segment, focusing on sports-inspired streetwear" and created new partnerships with fashion designers Stella McCartney and Yohji Yamamoto. The mid-2000s saw more innovative marketing with the inclusion of famous athletes like Muhammed Ali, David Beckham, Haile Gebrselassie, and Laila Ali in ads that saw them "face their fears, defeats and challenges only to prove that, indeed, impossible is nothing."
Salomon split with Adidas in 2006, leaving only the TaylorMade brand behind. Adidas took on a new partner when it acquired Reebok, which included the brands Reebok-CCM Hockey and Rockport. The new company was rebranded as Adidas AG later that June. Adidas continued acquiring companies, adding Five Ten, Ashworth, and Adams Golf to its portfolio by 2012. The Reebok arm of Adidas focused on the fitness side of athletics, while Adidas worked to bring "together sport, street and style for the first time in one campaign to tell the world what it means to go all in, heart over head, inclusion over ego." Elite athletes like David Beckham, Lionel Messi, and Derrick Rose joined pop star Katy Perry in advertisements designed to show that Adidas is truly a brand for all purposes.
New innovations kept coming, such as the Energy Boost running shoes that debuted in 2013 and "featured a completely new cushioning material" that was "created in cooperation with the German chemical company BASF." The shoe was touted as providing "soft and responsive cushioning for a running experience unlike any other."
In 2016, after 15 years of leading Adidas, Herbert Hainer stepped down as CEO and Kasper Rorsted took over at the helm of the company. Rorsted was "well-received among employees, media and investors alike," and is positioned to lead the company into the future.
Rorsted became the CEO of Adidas in 2016, following the 15-year tenure of Herbert Hainer. Prior to his position as CEO, Rorsted was an executive board member for the company. He has also held the CEO position at Henkel AG, where he also had stints as Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Purchasing, IT, and Infrastructural Services. Rorsted has additional work experience with Hewlett Packard, Compaq, and Oracle. Rorsted has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor's degree from Copenhagen Business School.
Roland Auschel, Global Sales (Chief Sales Officer)
Auschel has been with Adidas since 1989, holding a variety of positions including European Sales Director, Managing Director, Senior Vice President Head of Region EMEA, Managing Director of Austria, and Head of Business Development — Accessories. Auschel has a diploma in European Business Studies from Fachhochschule Münster, an MBA from the University of Miami School of Business, and an SEP in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Liedtke joined Adidas in 1994 as a Global Line Manager and U.S. Merchandiser. He steadily improved his position in the company, holding a variety of positions, including Business Unit Manager, Director of Brand Marketing, Vice President of Brand Marketing, and Senior Vice President of Sports Performance Brand Marketing. Liedtke has a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Harm Ohlmeyer, Finance (CFO)
Ohlmeyer has been employed with Adidas since 1998, when he was appointed Head of Global Marketing Controlling. He moved up the chain to hold the positions of Vice President of Corporate Controlling, Senior Vice President of Finance, Chief eCommerce Officer, Senior Vice President of Sales Strategy and Excellence, and Senior Vice President of Digital Brand Commerce before becoming the CFO in March 2017.
As with all members of the executive team, Parkin has been with Adidas for many years, beginning her career with the company in 1997 as a Sales Manager. She progressed in the organization, holding a variety of positions including Business Development Director, Vice President of Business Development, Vice President of Logistics & Supply Chain U.S.A., and Senior Vice President of Logistics & Supply Chain U.S. A. Prior to becoming the Chief Human Resource Officer in November 2014. Parkin has studied at Sheffield Hallam University.
Steyaert came to Adidas from the Kellogg Company in 1999, when he became the Joint Managing Director of Adidas France. He has also held the positions of Managing Director of North Europe and Managing Director of Western Europe. He became responsible for Global Operations in August 2017. He studied at ISC Paris from 1983-1986.
CORE PRODUCT CATEGORIES
Adidas, which began exclusively as a shoe company, has branched out into four product categories for men, women, and kids. These are:
1. Shoes — originals, running, soccer, basketball, training, football, sandals & slides, outdoor, tennis, skateboarding, baseball, and NEO.
2. Apparel — pants, tights, hoodies, sweatshirts, jackets, short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts, tank tops, shorts, track suits, warm-ups, dresses, skirts, sports bras, jerseys, graphic t-shirts, and underwear.
3. Accessories — bags, backpacks, hats, beanies, socks, phone cases, sunglasses, headbands, watches, balls, gloves, and scarves.
4. Customized Sports Gear — Specialty and custom apparel and shoes for running, training, soccer, outdoor, basketball, football, tennis skateboarding, weightlifting, baseball, volleyball, yoga, and hockey.
Recent Adidas press releases have centered on innovative products and the sale of TaylorMade. Here are five recent press releases that will provide you with insight into where the company currently stands and where it is headed.
1. Adidas Unveils Industry's First Application of Digital Light Synthesis with Futurecraft 4D
This press release details the recent partnership between Adidas and Carbon to "create the first performance footwear crafted with light and oxygen." These shoes feature midsoles that are "crafted with light and oxygen using Digital Light Synthesis, a technology pioneered by Carbon" and will allow Adidas "to bring the most personalised performance products from imagination into physical reality."
2. Adidas Unveils World's First Performance Shoe Made from Biosteel Fiber
This press release introduces the Adidas Futurecraft Biofabric, a shoe that is "100% biodegradable through a fully natural process." Through a partnership with the "German biotech company AMSilk," Adidas was able to develop a shoe that is not only 15% lighter than those made with conventional synthetic fibers, but is also entirely biodegradable, illuminating Adidas' commitment to the environment.
3. Adidas to Sell TaylorMade, Adams Golf, and Ashworth to KPS Capital Partners
This press release is about Adidas' intention to sell its golf brands to KPS Capital Partners for $425 million, thus bringing and end to the longest-running acquisition partnership between Adidas and TaylorMade.
4. Adidas and Parley for the Oceans Unveil First Performance Apparel and Footwear
This press release details the groundbreaking partnership that creates the "first soccer and running performance products made with Parley Ocean Plastic." As with the biodegradable shoes, Adidas once again shows its commitment to lessening its carbon footprint by manufacturing soccer jerseys and shoes made from upcycled marine plastic waste. The company intends to "make one million pairs of shoes using Parley Ocean Plastic in 2017" and their "ultimate ambition is to eliminate virgin plastic from our supply chain."
5. Adidas Athletics Releases Newest Reigning Champ Collection
This press release is another announcement of a new product line, the Reigning Champ Collection. The shoes and apparel in this line feature "UltraBOOST and alphabounce" technology that "features leather caging and reflective branding on the tongue" (UltraBoost) and "leather detailing and space dyed engineered mesh" (alphabounce).
To wrap it up, Adidas has a rich history with humble beginnings in a Bavaria, Germany washroom. It has become an athletic brand of choice for elite athletes, pop stars, and cultural icons since its inception in 1924. Kasper Rorsted is Adidas' current CEO, having held the position for just over a year. The company is focused on developing innovative products that are environmentally friendly, forward thinking, and designed to improve athlete performance. Its four core product categories are shoes, apparel, accessories, and customized sports gear.