Bayern Munich – At the Centre of the Battle between Nike and Adidas
Posted on 10th October 2015
The dust has settled and FC Bayern Munich are the clear and deserved winner of the German Klassiker. While Bayern fans and players are ecstatic about Sunday’s 5-1 win over their closest rival, the large majority of German football fans lament the possibility of another boring title race in Germany’s Bundesliga.
Of course Bayern players have little worry about the feelings of the fans of the other 17 clubs in the Bundesliga, and as it is often the case in this day and age many Bayern players tweeted and facebooked pictures from their dressing room celebrations.
One such tweet, however, could now have a major consequence for Jerome Boateng, Joshua Kimmich, Thiago, and Douglas Costa. The tweet was posted by Jerome Boateng (@JB17Official), and Arturo Vidal (@kingarturo23) to 3.5 million followers and shows the above mentioned players holding towards the camera the very boots that they used to dismantle Borussia Dortmund just moments ago.
The first impression is that this is a spontaneous moment of joy over having beaten their once closest rival in the title race. On second glance it becomes apparent that this picture is part of a guerrilla advertisement campaign by Nike—Vidal’s tweet simply read Nike!!! (see here).
The problem with both Boateng’s and Vidal’s tweet, however, is the fact that Bayern is not only sponsored by Adidas, but that Adidas is also a share holder at FC Bayern Munich—the company holds 10% of Bayern’s shares.
Even though Nike is the largest sporting goods company in the world, Adidas has been dominant in football, where the German company holds the exclusive sponsorship rights to the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA European Championships, and Champions League. Furthermore, by signing deals with Manchester United and Juventus Turin, Adidas has recently managed to snap up two major equipment deals from Nike. In Germany—other than Bayern—Adidas also sponsors the Bundesliga and the German national team, meaning that Adidas is firmly rooted in Europe’s biggest economy. Hence, Nike has resorted to so-called guerrilla marketing when it comes to placing their brand at Bayern.
When Bayern signed Mario Götze, who is also sponsored by Nike, from Borussia Dortmund for £31.5 million in 2013 the player showed up to his official presentation at his new club wearing a white shirt with a big Nike slogan on it. Adidas protested, and both the club and Mario Götze had to officially apologize, and pay a fine—for which Nike probably handsomely compensated him. As for Nike, the whole affair became an even bigger marketing gag as the news of Götze sporting the Nike swoosh at the Adidas clubs travelled around the world, and made notable headlines in all major newspapers in Europe.
Now it appears that Nike has once again managed to usurp Adidas’ sponsoring supremacy at Bayern. Despite the fact that the five players wore their Adidas clothing while showing their shoes to the camera—although in Vidal’s case it was nothing more than a towel—the guerrilla marketing will have some consequences as the five players will most likely get a costly reminder after the national team break on how to celebrate without plugging Nike in the dressing room after a match. Especially given the fact that the five accidentally also managed to include Bayern’s CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the photo as he entered the dressing room just as the photo was taken. He will likely not be amused to explain his shareholders once again how Nike is able to continue its guerrilla war at Germany’s largest club.
About the author – Manuel Veth