adidas and IAAF announce an Eleven Year Partnership, by Alfons Juck, Commentary by Larry Eder


adidas takes a very long term approach to sponsorship. Their sponsorship of the BAA Boston marathon goes until 2016, I believe. adidas has now taken over as the offficial footwear and apparel sponsor of the IAAF, giving the tremendous exposure at IAAF events such as the World Champs in Berlin next summer.

(In a picture rich with symbolism, Herbert Hainer, CEO, adidas AG, Yelena Isinbayeva, IAAF Female Athlete of the Year, and Lamine Diack, IAAF president, photo courtesy of adidas AG.)

The battle for the hearts and minds of the running consumer is a global affair. There are few brands who have not only the money, but the infrastructure to get the value from event sponsorship on a global stage. It is the battleground of the top global brands.

How much is involved? In a business where $7 billion plus of running footwear is up for grabs on a global level and nearly $1.5 billion in performance running footwear, with shoes over $110 a pair sold in that supply channel, lots is up for grabs?

Where do athletes and event sponsorship tie into running footwear purchasing? I believe, the level of sophistication with the consumer has never been higher. adidas has used its Olympic branding and its heritage in running better than most. The IAAF sponsorship, in my mind, plays into that mindset.

Other brands have used Olympic sponsorship, Olympic athletes and Olympic federations, but remember, adidas is the one that opened the Pandora's box of sports marketing and athlete sponsorship. Nike is the brand that blew up the Pandora's box and set sports marketing on its proverbial ear. The fascinating note to me is how each brand, whether they use a local sports marketing approach or a global approach, have found ways to bring sports marketing into the mix, and into their brand culture. Sports marketing does play a role in each and every brand, little or huge, and their approach to the sport of running. Many companies can sponsor an athletics meet, but each company does it in a very different manner.

Track fans are like soccer fans, they love seeing their favorite athletes competing, in fantastic racing footwear and competing their hearts out. There is nothing more exciting than a close race or a competition that comes down to the last jump or last throw.

Does sports marketing play a role in your purchasing? The way you feel about a brand influences your purchasing, especially in times when money is tight. I believe that running footwear sales will grow in 2009, even with the global economic blight. Running, walking, throwing a javelin or pole vaulting, are all, in the end, personal experiences. They are part of the now. And in those experiences, we find a way to release the frustrations of the day, and recognize, that besides panting down the road on a cold snowy day, or rope climbing in a cold training hut, there is very little that we can control in our lives. Sport gives us solace, sport gives us the confidence, sometimes, to face another day.

Brands that tie in with our past times, like running, track & field, are branding with the consumer in their most emotional moments.

I applaud adidas with their sponsorship of the IAAF. In the particular, it is an example of a brand that has found strong reasons for supporting sports marketing, and big or small, sponsorships of our sport, from the local high school track meet, to the Olympics mean that our sport can be observed by more and more by the seven billion plus inhabitants of the planet.

adidas and IAAF Announce Eleven Year Historic Partnership

Monaco, November 23, 2008 – adidas and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), formally announce an 11-year partnership agreement granting adidas the world-wide sponsorship rights for all IAAF World Athletic Series events until 2019.

Under the agreement, adidas will be the official IAAF athletic sponsor and licensee product supplier for the next eleven years. The partnership incorporates every aspect of athletics, from product creation, to grassroots development and retail distribution. Among the highlights of the deal, adidas will be the Official Sponsor of the 2009 IAAF World Championships next summer in Berlin, August 15th through 23rd.

The partnership was announced during a press event in Monaco supported by CEO and Chairman of adidas AG, Herbert Hainer, and IAAF President, Lamine Diack. Also present were a host of track and field stars representing adidas including 2008 Olympic gold medallists Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS), Dayron Robles (CUB) Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM) and Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR).

adidas has a longstanding history in athletics dating back to 1928 when their founder, Adi Dassler, supplied Lina Radke with a handmade pair of spikes to wear during the Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Lina set a world record in the 800 meters and became the first Olympian to win gold in Adi Dassler’s shoes. Many more heroes of athletics have followed including Jesse Owens, Emil Zátopek, Al Oerter, Bob Beamon, Daley Thompson, Grete Waitz, Heike Henkel, Haile Gebrselassie and Yelena Isinbayeva.

“The heritage of the adidas brand is closely linked with the legacy of athletics and the IAAF,” said Herbert Hainer, Chairman and CEO of adidas AG. “Therefore, we are very proud to announce our new partnership with IAAF and we are looking forward to shaping the future of athletics together at all levels in the coming years.”
The IAAF President Lamine Diack also welcomed the agreement and said: “adidas is more than just a major business corporation. It is a company which has deep roots in the sport of athletics and has also been a good partner of the IAAF in the past. I am delighted that we are re-signing with adidas, a brand that understands and loves the sport of athletics.”

adidas will continue supporting the IAAF development and continental programmes by providing the most advanced adidas athletics apparel, footwear and accessories. The IAAF Continental Programme enables the IAAF to expand support to its continental regions and adidas will make a very significant contribution to this programme.


For more information about adidas please visit

To Learn about the IAAF, please visit

To lean more about our sport in the U.S., please visit

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