“Nike wants to dominate the football market” by signing the French and German teams, says sports marketing specialist Lionel Maltese

The French Football Federation announced on Tuesday that the American brand would remain the equipment supplier for the French teams until 2034, a few weeks after a historic agreement between Nike and the German federation.

France Télévisions – Sports Editorial



Reading time: 4 min

Les Bleues player Grace Geyoro poses with the France team jersey during a Nike brand event, April 11, 2024. (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

Nike has doubled down. Just a few weeks after signing a resounding agreement with the German Football Federation (DFB), Nike has extended its contract as official equipment supplier of the French Football Federation (FFF) until 2034, via a press release published on Tuesday April 30. While the French team moved from the German brand Adidas to Nike in 2011, the German team will end its historic partnership (since 1954) with its national brand in 2027, for a contract running until 2034 with the American rival.

Bjørn Gulden, boss of the three-stripe brand, judged “inexplicable” the amount of Nike’s offer on April 19 in an interview with AFP. For Lionel Maltese, lecturer at the University of Aix-Marseille in marketing and sports management, these investments reflect an aggressive but coherent strategy from Nike.

Franceinfo: sport : Are these prestigious but expensive partnerships profitable for brands? ?

Lionel Maltese : Financial profitability is very complicated to measure. It is a market that is difficult to analyze from the point of view of return on investment, rather in terms of competition with clearly identifiable rival brands. [Adidas et Puma notamment]. The French team is a young selection, with many players already extremely attractive individually and future potential to be secured.

Having players from a national team under the umbrella of the equipment manufacturer generates a competitive advantage, even if some players have individual contracts with other brands. The jerseys sold are brand associations between the France team and its key players, as in the clubs. Nike is looking to make shots, there is also a question of timing.

This announcement comes a few weeks after an agreement between Nike and the German team…

The signings with France and Germany reinforce Nike’s desire for dominance in the football market. The return on investment is incalculable. The advantage that can be achieved is over time. The affiliations with certain players who carry their teams are increasingly strong, so it is a way to secure both. “Player brands” are becoming more and more important.

Adidas is not going to look for major players from the France team: Kylian Mbappé will not leave Nike overnight, for Warren Zaire-Emery there was an investment in shoes. They will perhaps fall back on more urban or emerging sports and diversify.

“Adidas will lose its dominance and its authenticity. It is a historic brand, and the break with Germany is a strong signal.”

Lionel Maltese, sports marketing specialist

at franceinfo: sport

Why is the French team a key partner of the American brand?

In 2026, the World Cup is in the United States. Commercial exploitation will be dense, the French team is one of the favorites. This is security on the American market, where Jordan (Nike subsidiary) has already done a lot of work on the PSG brand, with Kylian Mbappé as the figurehead of the club and the French team.

Paris Saint-Germain player Kylian Mbappé poses with a jersey stamped by the Jordan brand, a subsidiary of Nike with the image of basketball player Michael Jordan, at the Parc des Princes on September 13, 2018. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

On the other national teams, there aren’t many notable players in dominant teams. It’s the end of Leo (Messi) and Cristiano (Ronaldo) so the investment will be short-lived, (Erling) Haaland is in a small market (Norway), Spain does not have extremely dominant players . There is the English market which is important.

What does the renewal of this partnership represent from the point of view of the French Football Federation?

The signatures of equipment manufacturers with the federations are quite special because they are voted on by the Executive Committees. These committees like to sign high-level financial partnerships, with a view to re-election. Let’s not forget that after the Olympic Games, there are the elections (for the presidency of the French Football Federation).

How can we explain the significant increase in the sums invested by Nike for these partnerships?

There are two explanations. First the length: it is rare among equipment manufacturers, especially with athletes, to sign for more than three or four years. There, we secure long-term work (until 2034): the memorization effect is strong and with young players, who are around twenty years old, there is a story that is being built. The other reason is that Nike has always tried to focus on very high-level niches rather than spreading itself over many elements.

Puma, for example, does not have the same strategy at all, and favors local partnerships, with “underdogs”. Adidas is a little lost, we don’t really understand where they are going. The loss of the German team is a big blow, but they couldn’t match up financially. It’s the same with the France team: Adidas had a history with the 1998 team, with Zidane. There is a page that has been turned, and that is confirmed. For the moment, their strategy is not clear and they are in reaction.

source site-18