Nike, Adidas and Under Armour: A Romance Novel

Once a divine battle between two classic brands, Nike and Adidas have resorted to vigilance over a third wheel in recent years – Under Armour. Potentially evolving into a love triangle with athletes and institutions, all three brands have exercised dominance in their own ways.

Nike:
Nike and Oregon stretch their relationship back to 1964 when Oregon track star, Phil Knight, co-founded the brand with coach, Bill Bowerman. Highly regarded for producing some of Oregon football’s most controversial jersey kits, Knight parted ways with Oregon last year. In justifying why, Knight blasted Nike for its national championships drought.

In recent months, Nike experienced blows to its personnel and sponsorships. In September 2014, 3 designers – Marc Dolce, Mark Miner, Denis Dekovic – departed the Beaverton factory and journeyed to rival, Adidas. Another puncture to its staff, chief information officer, Anthony Watson, bid a farewell out of dislike for Portland. In terms of sponsorships, the Miami Hurricanes terminated their 27-year affair with Nike in lieu of Adidas. And the Texas Longhorns may soon break up with Nike after the school cut ties with College Licensing Company.

Depending on the University of Michigan’s situation with current sponsor Adidas, Nike will be a key suitor alongside Under Armour in reaching a contract deal in apparel distribution.

Smart move by Nike. Create mock-up designs, leak it online. Hard for Michigan to ignore positive reactions from fans. http://t.co/1IvB6YSRRA
Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) May 11, 2015

Nike merged as contender for official outfitter of the NBA.

Adidas:
A portmanteau of German founder Adi Dassler, Adidas gained international attention after the German national team defeated Hungary in the 1954 World Cup final.

In 1992, Adidas lost financial function and scraped the bankruptcy glacier. It’d regain composure in the mid-1990s after sneak innovations targeted improved athletic performance.

Although a staked reputation in pop culture and FIFA, Adidas has plastered its logo onto numerous collegiate jerseys in the last decade – partnering with N.C. State, Mississippi State, Michigan (expiring soon) and Wisconsin.

Adidas is no stranger in poaching Nike’s clients. In 2014, Adidas agreed to terms with the ASU Sun Devils after their contract with Nike dissolves. And this year, Adidas turned heads by snatching the Miami Hurricanes from Nike.

Under Armour:
Kevin Plank – a University of Maryland graduate – graced the sports apparel industry with Under Armour. Strapped with $17,000, Plank funded Under Armour from a rose business he had started in college. Now valued at over $3 billion, Under Armour is becoming the silent for Nike and Adidas.

Naturally, UA first teamed up with University of Maryland athletics. And soon thereafter, collaborated with Stephen Curry, the University of South Carolina, Cam Newton, and many more athletes and institutions (to come).

In 2014, Under Armour acquired a sponsorship with Notre Dame lasting 10 years, worth a crisp $90 million. In other news: the Tennessee Volunteers parted ways with Nike recently and awarded Adidas a handsome contract.

Under Armour is a likely candidate in stealing Nike’s veteran client, Texas, and may make a bigger splash in courting the University of Michigan from Adidas.