Nike and Adidas square off for Brazil World Cup in ongoing brand battle

Nike and Adidas square off for Brazil World Cup in ongoing brand battle

FRANKFURT - When football teams battle for the World Cup in Brazil next year, another fight for global supremacy will be played out on the pitches - between Adidas and Nike.

In the next round of their tussle to be the world's biggest sports brand there is everything to play for.

Nike currently owns 14.6 per cent of the global sporting goods market to Adidas' 11.4 per cent, and is whittling away at the German brand's No. 1 position in Europe. Adidas held 13.2 per cent of the western European sporting goods market in 2012 to Nike's 12.4 per cent, according to Euromonitor data. "It's not easy to evaluate (next year's) collections. Adidas is definitely putting a lot of effort into winning lost ground, but a company like Nike won't rest on its laurels," said Hans Allmendinger, head of marketing for German sporting goods retailer Sport2000.

Adidas has for more than 40 years decorated football kit and shoes with its distinctive parallel lines logo. It has strong partnerships setting it up well for the coming challenge: a close relationship with German club Bayern Munich, of which it owns 9 per cent, and with FIFA, football's world governing body, for whom it designs official World Cup kit.

Adidas has forecast record 2014 football sales of over 2 billion euros and aims to boost group sales to 17 billion euros (US$23 billion) in 2015.

US Nike, meanwhile, only entered the football market in 1994. But already it has several major partnerships with clubs, including English champions Manchester United.

The owner of the distinctive 'swoosh' or tick logo, does not give forecasts for individual sport categories, but it is predicting group sales of up to $30 billion by 2015 - suggesting it thinks it can put in a sufficiently strong performance during the World Cup to stretch its global lead over the German company - and maybe beat it at home too.

In Nike's first fiscal quarter of 2013, ended Aug.31, it posted an 8 per cent jump in sales in Europe. Over the same period, Adidas' European sales fell 7 per cent.

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Adidas is pulling out all the stops to make its presence felt in Brazil, where Nike sponsors the national team.

Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times and the country is a byword for stylish football, meaning there is a huge buzz around the tournament - and Nike's designs.

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