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Adidas Outdoor Brand Director Reveals the Strategy Behind the Reorg

Adidas Outdoor has a new attitude and mission to court casual consumers alongside traditional outdoor enthusiasts.

Some time ago, Tim Janaway, general manager for Global Outdoor at Adidas, sat down with the brand’s board of directors and presented a new plan for its official outdoor channel, Adidas Outdoor. Janaway asked for more resources, more leeway to make quick decisions and permission to unify the disparate brands—Adidas Outdoor, Terrex and Five Ten—under one outdoor umbrella.

The board granted Janaway his request, believing in his vision of Adidas Outdoor and its potential for growth. This move led to a complete restructuring at Adidas Outdoor, not only changing the face of the brand to something that more closely resembles the Three Stripes but also changing how the internal power structure operates, the newly appointed senior manager of brand communications and sports marketing at Adidas Outdoor, Patrick Tullos, told Sourcing Journal.

“We’re set up, what we call internally, like a speedboat business. With a company this large there’s a lot of process and procedure and everything else, and rightfully so,” Tullos said. “But sometimes that hinders you a little bit. Whereas, when you’re more like a startup,  you have to make quick decisions and be nimble and kind of do things and think out of the box—especially in the outdoor world where trade terms are different for accounts and selling seasons are a little bit different.”

The startup mentality Janaway brought to the board was among the most attractive parts of his offer, Tullos said. Adidas’ board wanted to see if his experiment could help inform other parts of the brand and lead to efficiencies elsewhere.

Previously, the outdoor brand relied on a company called Agron Inc. to distribute its products. However, Janaway and the Adidas Outdoor team felt their business would be more successful if allowed to harness the power of the primary Adidas Outdoor brand.

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One of the biggest problems Adidas Outdoor faced in the past was that its structure was difficult to understand, Tullos acknowledged, largely because the group was never set up to be consumer-facing. The Terrex brand creates “fast footwear” for hiking and trail running, in addition to performance outdoor clothing, while the Five Ten heritage brand targets the climbing and mountain biking space.

“Those together sit under the internal umbrella of Adidas Outdoor,” he explained.

What was once a confusing aspect of the brand is in the process of being simplified and streamlined, Tullos said. Instead of three channels, Adidas Outdoor will operate as one and will begin to utilize “the power of the horizontal brand” to build a new foundation.

The first step? Conquer North America.

“We’re really a lot more focused on North America,” Tullos continued. “This is the heart and soul of the outdoor world in a lot of ways. So we really have to win in North America and we want to do that.”

adidas outdoor has restructured its once disparate brands under the main Adidas brand
Adidas Outdoor’s MyShelter Climaheat Parka, released in November, was designed to appeal to the urban outdoor consumer with an eye for technical features.

Tullos and his team have come up with several activations designed for that goal. Adidas Outdoor has hired several outdoor-oriented spokespeople to travel the country through a program called “Road Warriors.” Utilizing a POS system called “Endless Aisle,” these individuals drive to various outdoor communities in a company-supplied vehicle, holding outdoor sporting events and proselytizing the Adidas Outdoor experience to all who will listen.

“I’m a firm believer that as a large brand in the space, we have a bit of a responsibility to keep the community healthy as a whole,” Tullos said about the brand’s approach to marketing. “And, obviously, there’s a residual impact for our business with that. But, it’s also just about giving people a good time and connecting with consumers on a one-on-one basis.”

Then, on the 26th of October, Adidas Outdoor flexed its ability to tell a product story to an urban audience with a unique activation in New York City. The brand selected 5,000 people through its Creators Club membership program and sent them a push activation that offered up a set of coordinates. When the lucky winners showed up to those coordinates, they were greeted by what seemed to be a very normal bodega on the city streets.

However, a closer inspection led them to the back of the shop where they were greeted by a secret collection of the brand’s new MyShelter jackets—housed inconspicuously in a typical bodega freezer and available for a low, promotional price.

The next weekend, Tullos said, the brand lured the next batch of Creators Club consumers out with the same coordinate-driven tactic, this time for an even bigger surprise.

“We created like a full sensory experience pop up store,” Tullos explained. “So when you walked in, you were met by an employee who outfitted you in a jacket. And then there was a film curtain that, when you went through it, was like stepping into the outdoors within the city. So, it was actually raining, there was low-hanging fog, foliage hanging from the ceiling, thunder and lightning. Consumers got to actually try the product and kind of escape the crazy chaotic city and go into this space of clarity.”

Tullos and Adidas Outdoor also understand that technically-minded, practical product is what typically entices the outdoor-minded consumer. The brand is set to unveil several new lines of products for the upcoming Spring/Summer season, including a new line of MyShelter jackets inspired by various international cities, including London, New York and Tokyo.

The brand has also expanded its line of lifestyle products, filling out the Adidas Outdoor offering with a greater selection of price points and utility that should help it lure in the “Urban Adventurer.” The brand is taking this consumer phenomenon to its most literal conclusion, adding in features like metro card pockets and sewn-in shoulder straps to fully-outfitted outdoor parkas.

The Terrex line of footwear will also soon be bolstered by several new lifestyle-adjacent silhouettes in the brand’s new Blue line, which takes the technical proficiency of Adidas Outdoor’s trail-running and hiking shoes and puts a more streetwear-friendly face on it at a lower price. The new Terrex Folgian Hiker will come equipped with a Bounce midsole from the main Adidas brand and a wider toe box, Cload Foam footbed and stretched forefoot put comfort at the forefront of its design—taking its wearer “from the mountain to the street.”

“We are rooted in technical product for sure,” Tullos said. “The products we create are made to perform but we also want it to look really good. I think, especially the newer outdoor consumer, they live in a city and they go outdoors to escape the city. [They feel] what you wear defines you and they don’t necessarily want to put on the [oudoor] costume to go out.”