Jun 13, 2017
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Adidas and ASU form athletic sponsorship entity focused on diversity, sustainability

Jun 13, 2017

Adidas and Arizona State University (ASU) have formed the Global Sport Institute (GSI) as part of their collegiate athletics partnership, focused on innovation, diversity and sustainability in sport.

ASU was ranked the top school in innovation for 2015 and 2016 by US News & World Report. It beat out Stanford and MIT. Adidas plans to mobilize the innovation at ASU to source new talent and diverse perspectives to drive sport forward.

The GSI will focus on diversity in sport. It will provide nutritional focus and also sustainability research. Members will include students, faculty, researchers and engineers. Topics studied will include human potential, product development and consumer behavior. Supply chain management will also play a key role in the Institute's research towards sustainability.

Kenneth L. Shropshire, CEO of the GSI said, "GSI's purpose will be to transform the resulting findings into practical knowledge that is widely shared, educating and influencing audiences."

Traditional collegiate athletics sponsorships consist of branded product being handed over to a school along with large sums of money. Adidas currently pays ASU the equivalent of $4.2 million annually in apparel and equipment as part of its contract, double what prior sponsor Nike paid the school.

Nike, Adidas and Under Armour are always in a battle to dress the top schools who sell more fan apparel when their teams are successful. Collegiate deals are important business to the major athletic brands.

The market for collegiate athletic sponsorships is competitive. The top ten most expensive deals are split fairly evenly with Nike holding three of the priciest contacts, Adidas holding three, and Under Armour holding four.

Sponsorship deals are one way the athletic brands tell their story of driving sport ahead. Nike recently tried to break world records in running by making a running shoe that would help elite runners break the two hour marathon barrier. While the record was not broken, it created a lot of energy around the sport of running. Had the record been broken, Nike would have further embossed its name in running history as the go to running brand.

Adidas' GSI will be an interesting experiment in how brands dictate the collegiate market. Adidas' contract with ASU runs through 2023 which will be enough time to see whether the GSI can truly drive sport ahead.

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