Herbert Hainer says the company is working with law enforcement officials and 2010 World Cup organizers to limit the problem of counterfeiting (WFI/ Panasonic: Lumix)

(WFI)  Adidas supremo Herbert Hainer has spoken out about the scale of the problem in fake football merchandising in South Africa.

The CEO and executive chair of the World Cup commercial partner joined a local delegation of retailers and company officials to witness first-hand the selling of counterfeit Adidas apparel on the black market in the host nation for next year’s FIFA showpiece.

“I see copies of our sportswear everywhere I go. Unfortunately there are always criminal people trying to benefit from these things,” he told journalists in Johannesburg while attending the Confederations Cup.

“I have to say that a lot has been done to try to prevent ambush marketing and counterfeiters and fakes but there is still some work to do,” he said.

“We are working with all the tools we can to prevent this and protect our retail partners. The customs officers and police and local organizing committee are all helping us.”

Hainer confirmed that members of his delegation who witnessed vendors selling fake Adidas goods had taken action, but he did not elaborate and was also unable to quantify how much counterfeiting in South Africa was costing the company.

“I can’t say that because it depends on the particular items,” he said. “But we think we could lose five to six million pieces of goods. On the other hand, it’s also a sort of compliment. If you are not being copied then you are doing something wrong.”

Praise for Confederations Cup Organizers

Last November, Adidas unveiled the official Kopanya ball for the Confederations Cup, with the name and design of the ball paying tribute to South Africa.

Adidas has provided the official match balls for all FIFA tournaments since 1970 and has traditionally linked the name and design of the match ball for major international tournaments to the host country.

German football legend Franz Beckenbauer is the popular face of the company. Nicknamed ‘Der Kaiser’, he is the only person ever to have won World Cups both as a player and coach.

“Football is the heart and soul of Adidas,” Hainer said. “We’ve been very happy with the Confederations Cup here in South Africa because having a test event is as important for us as it is for FIFA – because we

The Kopanya ball designed by Adidas for the Confederations Cup (Adidas)

are official sponsor and licensee for the 2010 World Cup. Also, we have the host nation under contract.

“We will use this Cup to introduce a lot of new products and so it’s very important for us to prepare ourselves, just as the teams do.”

Among the new products will be the official 2010 World Cup match ball, which the global sportswear giant will unveil this December.

World Cup Boosts Revenues

Earlier this month, Hainer reported that his company was well positioned to further extend its market leadership in football in 2010.

According to Bloomberg, Adidas AG is the world’s second-largest sporting goods manufacturer and expects its 2010 World Cup-related merchandise sales – including jerseys, balls and footwear – to exceed $1.8 billion next year.

“We start from the same position as for the extremely successful 2006 World Cup. As official sponsor, Adidas will supply the official ball of the tournament and equip officials, referees, volunteers and ball kids,” Hainer said in a statement. “Additionally we outfit the host team South Africa.”

The first Adidas products for the World Cup are scheduled to go on sale this month.

According to the most recent independent market surveys by NPD Sports Tracking Europe and SportScan, Adidas is the world’s leading football brand, with a market share of more than 34 percent. In core markets such as Germany, and also in North America, Adidas’ football market share exceeds 50 percent.

Bernd Wahler, the company’s sport performance chief marketing officer, noted the importance of the 2010 tournament being the first African football World Cup. “We will utilise this event to present new, innovative products and to convey the fun and excitement the African people find in football to fans worldwide,” he said.

“The marketing focus will be clearly on digital channels and POS [point of sale], in order to be able to communicate as interactively and individually as possible.”

Written by Anthony Stavrinos

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