Every great story has a beginning. This one started in a small town in Bavaria, Germany. After first steps in his mother’s wash kitchen, Adi Dassler registered the “Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik” in 1924 and embarked on his mission to provide athletes with the best possible equipment. Gold medals in Amsterdam (1928, Lina Radke) and Berlin (1936, Jesse Owens) were first rewards and milestones – and only the start of our story.
On August 18, 1949, Adi Dassler started over again at the age of 49, registered the “Adi Dassler adidas Sportschuhfabrik” and set to work with 47 employees in the small town of Herzogenaurach. On the same day, he registered a shoe that included the registration of the soon-to-become-famous adidas 3-Stripes. From humble beginnings to a global success story – which was accelerated by a miracle …
Who would have thought that screw-in-studs on lightweight football boots would help write history? When the German national football team faced the unbeatable Hungarians in the 1954 World Cup final, they won so much more than just a trophy. Their unbelievable victory would be heard around the world for decades to come. And it made adidas and its founder a household name on football pitches everywhere.
What’s in a name? Everything, when you name it after a “Kaiser”. When the Franz Beckenbauer tracksuit model celebrated its debut, it became the first piece of apparel for adidas and opened a whole new business to a company that, so far, was famous for shoes.
How do you consistently earn the trust of world-class athletes through the decades? Produce innovative products that make them better for once. Adi Dassler’s secret to success had an additional personal ingredient: he met with athletes (some of them even as visitors in Herzogenaurach), listened carefully to what they said and constantly observed what can be improved or even invented to support their needs. The best of the best trusted adidas and its founder from the beginning. And that would not change throughout the decades to come.
In 1972, the world turned to Germany when the Olympic Games opened in Munich. Just in time for the event, adidas presented a new logo that was here to stay: the Trefoil. Then, symbolising performance. Today, the adidas Originals collection stands for lifestyle and street. Times may change, but trefoiled quality will always remain
From Herzogenaurach to the world: the 3-Stripes kept expanding to more and more sports throughout the years. This is reflected in the broad range of athletes who trust adidas to make them better: besides the usual suspects such as the world’s best football players, like the Argentinean national team, outdoor icon Reinhold Messner climbed mountains in adidas shoes and gymnast Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10, repeatedly.
Adi Dassler died on September 6, shortly before his 78th birthday. The man who almost single-handedly redefined the sporting goods industry and lifted the benchmark by a mile left behind a flourishing company. The end of one Dassler era became the start of another: Adi’s son Horst, with support from his mother Käthe, took over and – among many other things – continued to master his invention, the modern sports marketing.
When US-based hip hop group Run DMC released “my adidas” it was about setting the record straight about hard working people in troubled neighbourhoods and about pure enthusiasm about their sneakers. adidas itself only found out about this love story when the band held up the 3-Stripes shoes during a concert in front of 40.000 fans – one of these concertgoers was an adidas employee. The song became a hit and Run DMC and adidas unexpected and unique partners. This merge of art and sports not only set the everlasting street fashion trend off but also marked the birth of non-athletic promotions in the sporting goods industry.
In one of its most memorable marketing campaigns, adidas lets its biggest athletes including David Beckham, Haile Gebrselassie and Muhammad and Laila Ali face their fears, defeats and challenges only to prove that, indeed, impossible is nothing. The slogan became the synonym for reaching one’s goals.
From the court to the catwalk and the stadium to the street. The adidas brand offers apparel and footwear for every sport, every fashion, every style, whether you are an athlete or fashionista. And in 2011, adidas brought together sport, street and style for the first time in one campaign to tell the world what it means to go all in, heart over head, inclusion over ego. “all in” (featured by Lionel Messi, David Beckham, Katy Perry and Derrick Rose) lived from the idea that, no matter your goals or challenges, you have to go all in for the ultimate success.
In March 2015, we presented the next five-year strategic business plan for the adidas Group. 'Creating the New' is the attitude that leads us into the future. Through sport, we have the power to change lives. We work every day to inspire and enable people to harness the power of sport in their lives. We also translate our competence in sports into streetwear and fashion because sport is an attitude and a lifestyle. Everything we do is rooted in sports. At the very heart of 'creating the new' are our brands. Our brands are what connect us with our consumers; therefore, the success of our brands defines the success of our business. With 'Creating the New', we will get closer to them than ever before. To achieve that, our plan is based on three strategic choices:
Speed: We will become the first true fast sports company: Fast in satisfying consumer needs, fast in internal decision-making.
Cities: We have identified six key cities in which we want to grow share of mind, share of market and share of trend: New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Tokyo, London and Paris.
Open source: We will be the first sports company that invites athletes, consumers and partners to be part of our brands.
Source: adidas Group