Reebok sold by Adidas : Is this the end or a new beginning?

When we talk of household brands, Reebok definitely has a spot on the list. This brand has been around for as long as we can remember. At some point, they knocked Nike out of the top spot. Adidas has recently announced the sale of Reebok to Authentic Brands Group (ABG), a deal worth $2.5 billion. This marks the end of an era for Adidas and a new chapter for Reebok under new leadership.

The rise of Reebok

Before its acquisition by Adidas, Reebok was Nike’s main competitor in the 80’s US market, which kind of caught Nike off guard. The likes of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Jane Fonda, who all adopted Reebok kicks, ensured that the brand grew exponentially and competed neck and neck with Nike. They finessed the growing women aerobics market, which was a largely ignored by other brands, and number one choice for all participants, with the famous Reebok Freestyle. Nike however did not stay down for long. They hopped onto well-known basketball Legend Michael Jordan, introducing a line of Jordans, and well as they say, the rest is history.


With the release of the Reebok Step and the Reebok Pump and deals with basketball icons Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson, Reebok cemented their place in the hearts of the people. It is no wonder Adidas sought to bring them into the fold as a way to dethrone their arch nemesis; Nike. This would not be the case unfortunately. 

Adidas acquisition

Adidas acquired the brand in 2006 as a means to compete with powerhouse brand Nike. The deal was worth $3.8 billion. Prior to the sale, Reebok was the official uniform supplier for 29 teams in the NBA and 16 in the WNBA. They were also the licensed manufacturer for licensed NFL merchandise which included uniforms and footwear for all 32 teams. Adidas took over these deals once they acquired the brand.


One of the reasons cited for the struggle of Reebok as stated by Matt Powell, senior industry advisor of the NPD group, in an interview with Retail Dive, is that decisions were made in favor of Adidas that prevented Reebok for growing further and further caused a loss of identity for Reebok. The brand was relegated to a smaller market of fitness and training. They were not able to really capitalize on exploding trends, like their counterparts. The company lost its sports positioning and brand identity especially with the ever-changing logo.

However, Adidas cannot be fully blamed for Reebok’s struggles. Inconsistency and lack of a strong brand identity can also be blamed for that. When you think of Reebok, what is the first image that comes to mind? You might not have a definitive image than when think of a Nike sneaker.  Adidas on the other hand, has consolidated its market presence with celebrity collaborations such as Kanye West’s Yeezy and Beyonce’s Ivy Park. With the direction they have taken, it would seem that Reebok no longer fits into the strategy. This proves that it is for the best for them to come out of the shadow of Adidas.

Hope for the future

It is not all bad; Reebok’s recent collaboration with Cardi B has seen much success. It may give them a fighting chance at competing with Beyonce’s well-famed Ivy Park. The brand is set on going back to their roots and once again focus on the female consumer with the launch of their new campaign ‘Radicalm’ giving the brand a much-needed fresh perspective. After all, Reeboks’ rise to fame was due to women’s aerobics. Perhaps a return to their once beloved market may allow them to win their way back into the hearts of the people. Only time will tell, we guess…

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