Adidas Celebrates Lionel Messi’s U.S. Arrival and All Things Soccer – WWD

Playing off Thursday’s start of the Women’s World Cup, and the recent arrival of one of its leading athletes, Lionel Messi, to Inter Miami, Adidas celebrated all things soccer at a media event Thursday morning.

In a 45-minute presentation that was heavy on praise but absent of any hard numbers, Adidas executives talked about “the summer of soccer” and the anticipated increasing interest and expected sales boost due to the sport. The event was held in advance of Adidas’ first-half earnings call on Aug. 3.

Wearing an Adidas black and pink Inter Miami Messi jersey, the company’s North America president Rupert Campbell welcomed attendees with video clips of how the brand had saluted the soccer star’s arrival to his new MLS home city on Wednesday. While pink flares and black helicopters soared overhead, black cigarette boats raced through the water below beside barges carrying shipping containers imprinted with images of Messi.

Beyond its WWC support of teams and players, Adidas’ commitment to soccer includes new deals with teen standout Chloe Ricketts and Mia Bhuta. Through its partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Adidas is expanding its “Just Ball League,” a free neighborhood program that helps middle schoolers have access to the sport, from New York and Los Angeles to include Miami. Campbell said Adidas has also extended its partnership with MLS and noted how plans are already underway for the brand’s involvement with the 2026 men’s World Cup, which will be held in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

“What’s happening this week aligns closely with our North American business strategy, which is doubling down on sport and combining it with culture and style,” Campbell said.

To that end, he wrapped up the media event with a Q&A with another Adidas athlete, the soccer legend David Beckham. As an Inter Miami co-owner, Beckham is not surprisingly eager for Messi’s first MLS game Friday. “This is the moment that this game changes in America. It’s changed over the years, but the eyes of the world are now on Miami, MLS and soccer,” he said.

Messi’s recent Inter Miami presentation racked up 3.5 billion views, according to Beckham. The Premier League summer series in the U.S. is expected to further interest in the sport. Combined with interest in the women’s side, which is seeing sellout crowds int 60,000-seat stadiums in Europe, the sport’s future is bright, said Beckham, who noted his daughter Harper, whom he did not refer to by name, is inspired by the female players.

Interest in Messi and his Adidas Inter Miami jerseys is so strong that Adidas, which has two freestanding stores, opened a pop-up store to help keep up with product demand in Miami. Declining to provide any sales figures, Campbell said that some key retailers had sold out of Messi goods within minutes. To ramp up interest among U.S. employees, Adidas threw a Lionel Messi day in its Portland, Oregon, headquarters, as well as in its distribution center.

In separate remarks, Adidas North America’s senior director of soccer Tor Southard mentioned reports of record launch day sales at key retailers and predicted the “ripple effects” of Messi competing Stateside will be “truly generational. Kids in south Florida and in other parts of the country will be inspired to play soccer, when they otherwise would not have.”

Citing factors like Messi’s arrival, the WWC, the Copa América and the Club World Cup being hosted in the U.S., ongoing interest in MLS and the U.S.-bound 2026 FIFA men’s world cup, he said that should translate into growth in the sport and the brand. Adidas has already seen “record-breaking sales” for its WWC kits, Southard said.

Although Adidas executives enthused about the potential halo effect of the WWC and the 2026 men’s one, the sales impact has proven to be minimal in the past. As reported last week in WWD, Adidas quantified that the direct revenue FIFA men’s World Cup two years ago was 400 million euros and the company’s total revenue was 22.5 billion euros last year, representing about 2 percent overall. 

Christine Miller-Sheehan, vice president of communications and brand planning, talked up the fashion side of soccer, mentioning how Hailey Bieber, Kendrick Lamar and Jennifer Lawrence have been spotted sporting soccer jerseys.

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