Between 2002 and 2013, Adidas saw its overall market share more than quadruple—but in the US, the German company has recently struggled, with a retail market share of just 7% last year. And in the world of sneakers, that's a big problem: "The US is 40% of the world's sneaker market and 100% of the world’s sneaker culture," an analyst tells the Wall Street Journal. The No. 2 sports brand in the world is now trying to get off the sidelines in the US, where, in the 1970s, it was the star player. It was recently surpassed in the US by Under Armour; neither firm has caught up to Nike, which surpassed Adidas years ago, the Journal reported in January. The new effort is largely in the hands of Mark King, the president of North American operations since June.
When it comes to sportswear, coolness is key, the Journal notes, and that means nabbing celebrity support. King has received the OK from Germany to sponsor as many as 500 pro football and baseball players in the US over the next few years, and he's also signed deals with Arizona State University and the University of Miami. Meanwhile, Adidas has been working with a celebrity who's not from the sports world: one Kanye West, whose Yeezy Boost shoes sold out in their first run. They're far from his only Adidas product, as his NSFW lookbook demonstrates, MTV News reports. And in a first, US product branding will be created mostly in the US, King notes, and that could be a big help: "If your upper management is in Germany, and they don't know Flatbush from Harlem from Virginia," says a retailer, "it's hard to have that information percolate back up to the top." (As for Nike, its famous slogan has a somewhat disturbing origin.)