“adidas paid approximately $100 million in cash and merchandise donations for the partnership rights, according to various reports. The company will supply apparel to athletes, staff volunteers and technical officials, plus sponsor interactive Internet gaming featuring several Chinese athletes, to place its brand in front of the crowd. Nike‘s gone another way, focusing, as usual, on sponsoring specific athletes. “Nike has never had to be an ‘official sponsor’ to make inroads,” says Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.
“The problem for Adidas is that,while it’s staked out its turf as an official sportswear partner, Nike has more top athletes. They include Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer and Australian track star Craig Mottram, along with old standby basketball legends Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
The fact that Nike’s athlete’s aren’t guaranteed to win at the games means there’s risk in going the performance route but also bigger payoff if they do. And to make local inroads, the company has signed up 22 of China’s 28 sports federations to outfit most of its athletes. That means even Yao Ming, the Chinese marketing sensation who plays for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, will be outfitted in a Nike basketball uniform despite a personal deal with Adidas’ Reebok unit.