Issue No. 235: Is that Kevin Hart doing a box jump?

A last word: The Shift from Athletes to Influencers

Last issue’s most clicked story was on Adidas’ use of models and influencers over athletes. A particular passage stood out:
According to Rorsted, there have been a few keys to Adidas’ success. Among these are new products designed specifically for women, such as the PureBoost X running shoe; better store displays; and importantly, the realization that the way to reach female customers isn’t through star athletes.
Do we strive to be athletes anymore? The answer is an overwhelming no. With the growth of the athleisure market has come a desire to look the part without the commitment of an athlete’s arduous lifestyle.
Speaking of, the lifestyle sector of sporting brands has grown at the expense of technical performance products and we’re seeing it manifest in new ways. Just today, I noted via Twitter that of the ten most popular searches on, Gigi Hadid outranked the first athlete by four positions. This search data was especially interesting given that one of Reebok’s prized media properties (the CrossFit Games) concluded, yesterday, in spectacular fashion. The search for “CrossFit” ranked ninth on the list.
In a statement to, ESPN’s Darren Rovell:

Nike has done the least of any big company in regard to non traditional, non pro athletes. I think it has affected them as the trend towards a more genuine interaction with stars of social has taken off.
Search for any athlete outside of Lebron, Ronaldo, or Jordan on and you’re more likely to find a photo of Kevin Hart than you would a photo of Ashton Eaton, the world’s best athlete. On, you will see Pharrell Williams before you stumble on a photo of a sponsored athlete.
Via Digiday (June 7, 2017):

For Adidas, influencers are likely to become more crucial to its plans over the coming months as it 
shifts more of its budget into digital. What intrigues those at Adidas most about the medium is how without any marketing support for Glitch and a mobile-only approach it was able to build a business around a community, albeit a small one.

Is this shift a result of American sports losing its luster on Madison Avenue? It’s more likely that for once, consumers feel the lifestyle of an influencer or a celebrity is more aspirational than a basketball star’s or soccer player’s. And with athleisure and lifestyle “streetwear” being the go-to for many, dressing the part has never been more accessible.

See more of the issue here.

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