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Adidas seeks to make up lost ground with US endorsement drive

German sportswear giant Adidas has been given the green light to ramp up its presence in the NFL American football and MLB baseball player endorsement market in a bid to bolster its position in the US.

Adidas’ North American president Mark King told the Wall Street Journal newspaper that the company’s US arm has been granted permission to sign as many as 250 NFL players and 250 MLB players over the next three years, up from a total of fewer than 40 now.

Adidas has dropped into third place in the US sportswear market behind Under Armour, while it has lost further ground to market-leader Nike. The NFL and MLB endorsement drive is part of Adidas’ diversification process as it seeks to broaden its outlook beyond football.

“We can’t use the global strategy,” King said. “I know we’re a soccer brand globally, but in the US we have to be about US sport. We can still be No. 1 in soccer, but that can’t be what drives our business.”

The Journal said Adidas recently signed a deal with the NFL that will allow the players it endorses to sport the company’s three-stripe logos on the equipment they wear on the field. Current Adidas-sponsored NFL players include Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (pictured) and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

The company’s MLB roster includes Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and brothers B.J. and Justin Upton, who play for the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres, respectively.