Published in Marketing News
“The real test is still in front of us—making the Reebok brand more relevant to consumers.”
Those are the words adidas Group CEO and chairman Herbert Hainer said to shareholders in a 2007 annual report. At the time, Reebok had been a subsidiary of adidas Group, the global sporting goods parent company of adidas and TaylorMade, for just more than a year. Reebok, once the leader in the athletic footwear market, ahead of Nike, had fallen out of relevance more than a decade earlier. When it was aquired by adidas Group for $3.8 billion in January of 2006, Hainer warned critics of the long road to the brand’s recovery.
Each March for the next four years, the group CEO assured investors that Reebok was finally on the right path. In 2009, the “clear roadmap” to success set out Reebok’s plans to dominate women’s fitness, challenge men’s sports, and revive heritage styles. By 2010, the success of the “toning category”—featuring footwear that promised to tone wearer’s legs—seemed to have revealed a better way forward. But by 2011 toning was waning and Hainer grasped at Reebok’s running and fashion shoes for a bright spot.
While the brand continued to search for an identity and a foothold in the market, the seed of a partnership with great promise had been planted. If and when it would bear fruit was yet to be seen.