I was reading a french news forum the other day and one comment caught my attention. Although 95% of the comments on this forum are senseless, immature and inappropriate, this member had an interesting view about Nike being the new sponsor of the French Football Federation in 2011. He said: “it will be weird to me not to see 3 stripes on the French shirt! It will be like watching any other team but France”.
Indeed, for those who have not followed the not really recent football marketing news, from 2011 the French Football Federation (F.F.F) will be equipped with Nike products. Nike and the FFF agreed on a 7.5 season contract which amounts to € 42,66 million per season.
The French national team was sponsored by adidas since 1972 with great success, talented players and an idea of playing together. In a nutshell, adidas and “Les bleus” have been more than business partners. Some would argue that they were simply……partners. After the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, a 38 year “marriage” will end as FFF signed with adidas’ biggest competitor: Nike.
Football teams that have long lasting sponsors, are willingly or not integrating their sponsors in their brand design. Football federations like France (FFF) or Germany (DFB) have always worn 3 stripes and are strongly adidas branded. The same logic can be applied to the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) . The “auriverde” football shirt history never featured 3 stripes. Therefore, “clean” sleeves are part of the Brazil kit design.
A similar scenario is applicable to football clubs. Carlsberg has been on Liverpool shirts for 18 years (circa €10 million a season) and the deal will expire at the end of 2009-2010 season. From next season onwards, Liverpool FC will feature a new sponsor on their kits as their partnership with Carlsberg is over. Hey, 18 years is quite a long sponsorship for a club and I believe, to some extent that Carlsberg branding became “normality” on the Reds kits.
But let’s come back to the 38 year old partnership between adidas and the FFF. As I mentioned earlier, 3-stripes on FFF and DFB kits have become part of the shirt design in football fans and marketers minds. On the other hand, I do believe that fans are more and more aware of sponsorships deals and of the fact that a sponsor is not forever. This forumer knows about adidas, he knows about Nike. He knows very well that the French kits will be different in 2011 and his problem lies in the recognition of the french kit as a brand………which I found interesting.
It will be a drastic change in the football landscape, but adidas will still have a presence as the individuals deals remain. Players like Nasri, Benzema, Mandanda will still be part of the squad and will endorse their adidas footwear and gloves.
The point of this article is not to emphasise on the looks of the kits, but essentially to insist on the fact that after 38 years of a specific brand on a football kit, it will be interesting to have views on the brand transition that will happen on the french kits in 2011. What will be the FFF strategy (If they have one) to communicate on not having their mark of football heritage?
And you? what’s your take? Please share your views on My Football Lounge.