The Swoosh has dropped several big players this year
Over the past several months, a number of high-profile players seem to have not had their contracts renewed by Nike. Raheem Sterling and Robert Lewandowski are just two of the well-known players to have dropped the Swoosh and have begun wearing other brand’s boots. The most obvious change is Neymar, but Nike had no plans to drop him, it was more that Puma swooped in to grab him. Nike seems to be looking for ways to save money when it comes to player sponsorships. So of course, its time to speculate.
The most obvious explanation for this is that Nike is spending more money on other, younger players like Jadon Sancho who was surprisingly given his own custom model. Lewandowski, is still high-profile but I’m sure Nike don’t count on many sales coming from him repping the brand. So in their mind, they could drop Lewi and put that money towards players who are bigger influencers. There is also the fact that Mbappe is continuing to rise in profile and we wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that Nike may be re-negotiating his contract in the near future. So, they’ll need the money.
Another obvious theory is that because of the ongoing pandemic, Nike needs to be saving money to help them get through everything. In a way it makes a lot of sense, since a lot of companies are struggling. The issue with this theory is the fact that a lot of sportswear companies are doing really well because a lot of people have been working out at home a lot more. On top of this, Nike’s stock has been hitting record highs (while also firing workers) and cutting contracts with smaller retailers and driving more sales to their own website and app. This means that this theory is on the shakiest ground.
We can also talk about how Nike understands that the market is evolving and social media is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to sales. Nike has probably one of the best marketing teams in the world so they tend to be ahead of the curve or leading the changes. Of course people want to buy the product they see their favourite players wearing, but it has been becoming just as important to make it seem like these brands are still connected to the streets and the amateur game. In order to this though, it requires the shifting of marketing resources away from professionals and more towards social media and the everyday person.
The final theory is more about how Nike is run as a company. If you’ve ever worked with Nike on a Business to Business basis, you’ll know that the company feels like a bunch of smaller companies fighting each other for the same resources. It could be that some of the money originally earmarked for football sponsorships got shifted to other sports instead. It wouldn’t be the first time. A smaller example of this is the time when Nike couldn’t change the vinyl graphics they put on the windows of the store I worked at. We kept asking them to change it and they kept saying there was no money in the budget to change it. Because of that, we had the same window graphics for about 9 months when normally they were changed every 2-3 months.
All of this is just supposition and every one of these theories could be wrong, or it could be a combination of all of them. It also helps that many players are willing to wear Nike boots for free as it is. In any case, Nike’s athlete marketing has freed up a fair bit of resources recently so it will be interesting to see what happens next.
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