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Nike, Adidas bet big on World Cup football shirts



When England and Spain meet in the World Cup final on Sunday, millions of football fans will be glued to their televisions. Many will gamble on the outcome. But for companies like Nike and Adidas, there’s a whole other bet playing out: whether they made enough merchandise to satisfy the euphoric demand from fans of the winning team.

The companies decided months ago how many replica and authentic jerseys to manufacture for each of the women’s teams. Those decisions were based on a combination of historical shopping patterns for each country, conversations with retail partners and a fair bit of conjecture. Getting the picture wrong can have real consequences — both in terms of lost sales and angered fans.

“There is no formula for it — I wish there was,” Bjorn Gulden, chief executive officer of Adidas, said of the process for forecasting demand. “If there was someone who knew that, that person would be hired immediately.”

For this year’s Women’s World Cup, the stakes are particularly high. This is the first time the tournament has featured 32 teams and the prize money is triple what it was in 2019. Adidas, Nike and Puma have invested more than ever into marketing and outfitting some of the players. Globally, interest appears to be at an all-time high.

Now, for the wrinkle that nobody could have predicted: many of the tournament favorites, including every country that’s ever won the Women’s World Cup before, has already been eliminated.

Too many, too few

There are two ways to misjudge demand. If you produce too much of a country’s jerseys, it could take months to work through all that excess inventory (perhaps leading to steep markdowns in price.) That’s what Puma had to do twice in recent years after Italy’s men’s football team failed to even qualify for the World Cup.

The other mistake — the real sin in the eyes of fans — is when you don’t produce enough of a particular jersey. Puma experienced that too, when it failed to order enough Manchester City jerseys in time for a swell in demand after the Abu Dhabi majority-owned club won England’s so-called “treble” — the Premier League title, the FA Cup and Europe’s Champions League — over a few weeks this spring.

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“Demand was significantly higher than what we have anticipated,” Puma CEO Arne Freundt acknowledged. “That was an opportunity for us to re-order and reproduce.”

It may have also cost Puma money. That’s because when a team wins a big title — or a high-profile player does something remarkable, like shocking the world by changing teams — it tends to create a massive spike in demand for jerseys that lasts for just a few days, according to Doug Mack, CEO of Fanatics Commerce.

If you can’t meet that demand right away, chances are you’ll lose potential business as disappointed fans give up and move on with their lives.

“That first 72 hours is a disproportionately interesting selling opportunity,” Mack said in an interview.

Seeing the future

There are ways to satisfy fans, nonetheless. Merchandise companies often flood the market with easily stockpiled items that only require a little final printing work or other touches — such as novelty championship hats, T-shirts and other collectibles. Uniforms, however, typically require more lead time to manufacture properly, which often forces brands to place new orders with factories that may not have much capacity at the time.

To hedge against such risks, companies such as Fanatics have experimented with new ways of predicting demand. A newcomer to the sports merchandise world, Fanatics runs, among other things, the e-commerce stores for all sorts of professional leagues and sports federations. It also licenses Nike’s Swoosh to produce the fan replica and authentic jerseys for, among other things, the National Football League.

This past spring, it leveraged its professional football contacts to create a model predicting the probability that superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers would get traded to the New York Jets, as rumored at the time.

As the odds got better, in Fanatics’ eyes, it ordered up a huge stockpile of blank Jets jerseys. That came in handy when the trade actually happened, since Rodgers became the most popular jersey, selling more than the next nine players combined, according to the company. “All we had to do after the trade is finish the jerseys with his name and number,” Mack said.

It’s not always so easy. Take the case of Lionel Messi announcing his plans in early June to sign with Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami. On paper, this should have been a slam dunk for Adidas, which has had an endorsement deal with Messi for more than a decade and which outfits every team in the MLS.

Yet there were a couple of challenges. Until late in the process, Messi was also rumored to be considering signing again with Barcelona, his old club, or even a team in Saudi Arabia. The other problem: Inter Miami’s uniforms are bright pink.

As a result, fans in mid-August are still required to “pre-order” Messi’s Miami jersey from Adidas, which is scrambling to ratchet up supplies.

“Miami is playing in a color that is not normally very commercial to have on stock, so we didn’t really have that much of the material,” Adidas boss Gulden explained. “I can assure you that both factories and aircrafts and whatever we can use has been used to fulfill that demand.”


Companies risk becoming punching bags when they’re caught off guard. England’s Mary Earps has taken Nike to task for not making fan versions of women’s goalkeeper jerseys (Adidas also doesn’t make these.) Meanwhile, Adidas has been criticized for not making versions of the women’s World Cup uniforms in men’s sizes, Gulden said.

Then there are the usual challenges with big tournaments. As ever, there have been some high-profile upsets, with Germany exiting in the first round (sorry, Adidas) and the US getting eliminated early in the knockout stage (sorry, Nike).

While that could leave these companies with more merchandise than fans want, it’s not necessarily bad for the sport. When the same teams win over and over, their fans don’t necessarily go crazy with enthusiasm, Mack says. When an underdog wins, though, it can create rare levels of excitement.

As it turned out, each of the two big sportswear makers ended up with a team in the final: Nike sponsors England, while Adidas sponsors Spain.

“First-time champions do incredibly well,” Mack says. “Those fan bases get activated.”


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Marketing & Sponsorship

Leicester City forge partnership with Khelraja




The English Football League Championship unit, Leicester City have announced a partnership with Asia’s renowned real-money gaming brand, Khelraja.

Following this deal, the brand has been labelled as the official partner of the side. The association includes Khelraja facilitating predictions for all competitive and friendly fixtures played by the team for all the fans throughout the Asian continent.

In addition, Khelraja will receive exposure through online, social media and offline brand activations with Leicester City.

Speaking of the association, Viren Modi, CEO, Khelraja, said, “Over the last few years, Leicester City FC has emerged as one of the most adored clubs in the world. The team’s fairytale run, which saw it crowned English Premier League champions in 2015-16, captured global imagination and attention. Over the years, it has steadily built a strong fan base in Asia thanks to its ownership and, today, rivals top Premier League clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool in terms of popularity in the region. We are delighted to partner with Leicester City FC as its official Asian betting partner and provide sports fans across Asia with the opportunity to pursue unique reward-based engagement with the club beyond just viewing.”

Khelraja offers a wide range of genres, including sports betting, live casino games, and esports. In around two years, the brand has established itself in Thailand and Indonesia. The brand is among the largest in its field, with licenses for significant foreign markets such as Japan and Africa on the horizon.

Prior to this deal, Khelraja also developed associations with Sevilla FC and Juventus. On the other hand, the EFL side has inked a collaboration with Marc Darcy while also signing sponsorship extensions with King Power and Parimatch.

Playing in the second division of English football, Leicester City have currently acquired the topmost position on the table with 18 points. The side will next take on Blackburn Rovers on October 1.

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Marketing & Sponsorship

Amokachi, Eguavoen, Others Calls For Support As 40 Lagos Community Teams Battle For 1×BET Football Cup 





Forty grassroots football teams drawn from different communities of Lagos State are set to battle for the maiden edition of the prestigious 1×BET football competition.

The 40 teams expected to feature in the competition for non-league sides have been pooled into 5 conferences of 8 teams each. 

At the glamourous and welI attended draws and unveiling ceremony held at the highbrow Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Chief Executive Officer of Match International Limited organisers of the event, Engr. Waidi Akanni, disclosed that beyond responding to its avowed Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, the sponsors of the football competition, 1×BET, are committed to the development of Nigerian football, particularly, at the grassroots levels. 

Chairman of 1×BET, Dr. Femi Babalola, was enthusiastic about the objectives of his company, as it concerns its aims, which are tailored towards a holistic development of football in Nigeria, as well as, the needs to use his company as a platform to satisfy and reward the passion of football fans across the country. 

Technical Director of Nigeria Football Federation, Austin Eguavoen, praised the sponsors for taking up the initiative to support and develop grassroots football in Nigeria. The former captain and coach of the Super Eagles, regretted the lack of si.ilar opportunities and sponsorship for grassroots football during his playing days. He went on to admonish corporate organisations to join the fray by supporting the development of grassroots football in the country. 

Super Eagles legendary striker, Daniel Amokachi, was particularly full of praises for the organisers and the sponsors of the competition. Even as he recalled the glorious days of Nigerian football and how much it positively impacted on the unity, love and peaceful co-existence of the people. 

Present at the unveiling ceremony of the competition that is expected to begin October 3, 2023, at the popular Nitel Training ground, Oshodi, were former Nigerian international players such as Henry Nwosu, Friday Ekpo, Victor Agali, Wasiu Ipaye, Loveday Omoruyi and Taiwo Oloyede. 

Others include Former Super Eagles coach and renowned football administrator, Chief Fanny Amun, Franklin Howard, Friday Elahor, Benson Edema, Akeem Ishola, David Apelete Dosu and Monday Kanu. 

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Marketing & Sponsorship

MTN Nigeria Named Exclusive Telecommunications Partner For NPFL Live




Following the recent announcement of the Joint Venture between the Nigeria Premier League Ltd, GTI and Propel Sports Africa to stream Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) games live, Propel Sports is delighted to announce that it has entered a deal with MTN Nigeria for the exclusive broadcast of the games on mobile devices on the MTN Network.

The streaming will cover eight live games each weekend, which will translate to over 300 games per season.

Basil Kabbani, Chairman of Propel Sports Africa stated: “The engagement with the team at MTN has been amazing, from the Digital VAS, to the Marketing and Commercial team, their approach has been consistently professional, and their enthusiasm for the NPFL content has been infectious. From the very start of our negotiations, we knew MTN was the right partner to give our great content, the platform it deserves.”

The deal, concluded by Propel Sports Africa President, Edward Simons and MTN Chief Operating Officer Hassan Jabar, will include in-and-post-game highlights delivered in real time to MTN subscribers through the NPFL Live OTT platform.

Propel Sports Africa’s in-Country Director Victor Okobi commented, “I cannot think of a better network than MTN to showcase the best of Nigerian soccer on NPFL-Live”.

“We are excited about this opportunity to deliver entertaining content to our subscribers. It is a testament to our commitment to sports development in Nigeria. We know Nigerians love football and we are glad to partner with Propel Sports Africa and GTI to deliver Nigerian Premier League matches in high definition to our customers. We are confident that this partnership will transform the reception and appreciation of the Nigeria Premier Football League,” said Hassan Jaber, Chief Operating Officer, MTN Nigeria.

Commenting for GTI, the Group Managing Director, Abubakar Lawal stated:

“This is the testimonial of the journey of the NPFL to the global space.  The partnership is very good for the football ecosystem of Nigeria as we strive to deploy technology and efficient solutions to create value for all the stakeholders and other prospective partners of the league.”

Commenting for NPFL, the Chairman Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, stated:

“The Nigeria Premier Football League is excited about the partnership potentials to elevate the league’s visibility and engagement. We are thrilled to welcome MTN as our exclusive telecommunications partner. Their expertise and commitment to innovation align seamlessly with our vision for the league.

“With MTN’s support, we look forward to not only reaching a wider audience but also enhancing the overall experience for our dedicated fans. This groundbreaking collaboration marks a significant milestone in the realms of sports and technology, promising an elevated viewing experience for football enthusiasts across the nation.

“The partnership underscores a shared commitment to bringing the excitement of football closer to the hearts of millions of Nigerians. The partnership will also redefine how football is experienced, engaging fans in every goal, tackle and victory with unparalleled clarity and convenience.”

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