Following research that showed the strong brand recall of international icons in markets other than their own, the Indian subsidiary last month sent a memo to other markets in the Asia Pacific suggesting the use of advertising featuring Mr Sachin. Adidas India MD designate Andreas Gellner, who takes charge on August 1, and is on a brief visit, says, "The response to the memo has been overwhelming. Adidas has a strong cricket market in the Asia Pacific, and Mr Sachin is a very strong icon."
As part of the strategy to get maximum mileage from associations with international icons, David Beckham may be used in the Indian market also. "India is opening up to sports other than cricket. Football appears to have a strong appeal too. So we see a definite place for some of our international brand ambassadors like Mr Beckham, for instance, in local campaigns."
The company has also started the process of marketing its Indian cricket icons more aggressively in the Indian market. Exactly what shape this takes, Mr Gellner is not willing to reveal.
"Wait till August. We will unveil some exciting cricket-related initiatives then," he said mysteriously.
Part of this branding exercise may include co-branded products with Sachin on the lines of the branding activity Adidas is doing with David Beckham.
The feeling in the Hong Kong regional headquarters is that Adidas Indias association with sporting icons has not been exploited fully. Adidas has Sachin Tendulker, Virendra Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra as brand ambassadors. Internal research had shown that even after 6 years, the association has not been as strong as it should have been. The brand will henceforth be more focussed on the tie-ups. "We intend to increase noise level, spend more on communication and advertising. Budgets would be finalised in a couple of months, but above the line spends could well double or even triple, says Mr Gellner.
Adidas is also altering its strategy in India to become more aligned to the Indian market. Till now it was reluctant to localise too much. Rival brands, like Reebok, have done exactly that and have products and price points designed for even second and third tier cities that has helped them broaden base and market share. In fact, India is the only market where Reebok is ahead of Adidas.
Says Mr Gellner,"We will look at building up our range that will be in line with our international range and brand value, though at the same time reflect local taste and content."
In recent restructuring moves, Adidas India has been separated from the South East Asia region. This is because India is completely different culturally, geographically and in every other way from the other countries in the region, says Mr Gellner.
This should help maximise the growth potential of the growing Indian market, which could well become number 3 for us after China and Japan, he adds.