The 2012 Olympics mean big business for sport apparel leaders Nike and Adidas. Every four years, the Nike-Adidas rivalry is revived during the Olympic Games, but this year it’s more heated than usual. Adidas has invested an estimated $150 million to become the official sponsor of Olympic athletes, and Nike’s not happy.
The problem stems from Nike sponsored athletes donning the official Adidas sponsored Olympic gear. In past Olympic Games, the two companies have upheld a gentleman’s agreement that allowed for sponsorship conflicts to be overlooked. Now, with more money on the line, Nike and Adidas are no longer content sharing the spotlight.
In recent days Nike sponsored athletes have taken to Twitter in protest of Olympic rule 40, which prohibit athletes from advertising for non-Olympic sponsors. The Olympic committee stresses the fact that this rule is only active for 30 days every four years and hardly makes an impact on existing sponsors. Nike doesn’t see it that way, and neither do the athletes who have a personal service agreement. They know it's Nike who will continue paying bills after the Olympics, and none are keen to endanger that relationship. Adidas’s $150 million gamble might ultimately hurt the brand’s perception if athletes continue to voice their disgruntlement over not wearing their beloved Nike products.
The conflict sheds light on the ever-problematic details surrounding athletes and sponsorships. In order for celebrity brand ambassadors and spokespeople to be credible in the eyes of consumers, they should be donning one and only one logo.
*Thanks to Mark Stephens, our Media Team intern, for the guest post!