Exclusive: Adidas Golf Exec Discusses the Impact of Major Tournaments on Shoe Sales

Adidas Golf Dustin Johnson
Adidas Golf ambassador Dustin Johnson.
REX Shutterstock

Golfers on the PGA Tour are essentially human billboards, walking advertisements for the brands that back them. And Adidas, one that sponsors some of the sport’s best, sees the benefits of its partnerships with its athletes come major tournament time.

The Masters in April was particularly eventful for the Three Stripes. Masun Denison, global footwear director for Adidas Golf, explained to Footwear News that the final pairing of ambassadors Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose resulted in roughly $19.9 million in brand exposure. The Garcia-Rose matchup also helped Adidas Golf see a 30 percent increase in sales online across apparel and footwear, including Garcia’s winning polo shirt selling out by the following morning.

Justin Rose Sergio Garcia The 2017 Masters Justin Rose (L) and Sergio Garcia at the 2017 Masters. REX Shutterstock

As for footwear, Denison confirmed the Powerband Boa Boost that Garcia wore saw roughly a 40 percent spike in sales from the prior week.

Special-edition shoe releases surrounding the major tournaments have also done well for the brand. The limited-edition Crossknit Boost that hit the brand’s online store for The Masters sold out in less than five minutes. The special edition of the same shoe for the U.S. Open sold out in two days.

With the third major of 2017 underway, the Open Championship in England, Denison shared with FN how Adidas’ golf business is affected by the year’s four largest tournaments.

Why are major tournaments important to Adidas’ golf footwear business?

In simplest terms, it’s when the most eyes are on the sport. Majors bring in huge viewership on TV and in live attendance, so it’s a great opportunity to highlight key products and create additional demand and buzz for our business. It’s also a great time to show the performance of our products. We have four of the top 13 players in the world, who often find themselves in the hunt or winning it all. Most recent win [was] Jon Rahm at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open just two weeks ago.

Do major tournaments have any impact on Adidas’ golf shoe business?

Absolutely. First and foremost, they provide additional exposure for our brand. We have apparel scripting during majors, and oftentimes we launch footwear colors that tie in directly for a clean head-to-toe look. If we have a player who is in contention, they get a lot of TV coverage, resulting in clear views of the details and design of our footwear. If we have a player like D.J. [Dustin Johnson] or Sergio [Garcia] win or be in the hunt, we often find a lift in sales the following week as people go out and look for the shoe they saw on TV.

Sergio Garcia Adidas Powerband Boa Boost Sergio Garcia at The Masters in the Adidas Powerband Boa Boost. AP Images

What are Adidas’ plans for footwear releases during majors? Are special0-edition shoes prepared for ambassadors who are favored to win?

Players mostly wear standard inline colors already available so that people can pick up the shoes themselves. However, we often take the opportunity to launch something more special, like a limited- or special-edition shoe. For instance, at the U.S. Open this year, we launched a red, white and blue Crossknit Boost shoe that took inspiration from the U.S. Open tournament. Since it was a spikeless sport model, most players didn’t wear it during the tournament, but this is an example of how a major drives excitement and buzz — even if it’s not being worn on TV that week. Another example is the Crossknit Boost we launched at The Masters — the “Pimento” shoe — which our players highlighted on social media, wore during the par-3 contest and several caddies wore on the course that week. We try to use the majors to inspire new colors and offerings that are cool and unique.

Do majors have a greater impact on sales versus regular stops on the PGA Tour?

Absolutely. Again, it helps to have some of the top players in the world with our brand. The social engagement levels and awareness around Adidas Golf jump up in a big way during majors, as was the case with Sergio’s Masters win earlier in the year. We saw a big increase in sales on our e-comm site for not only the polos he was wearing but the shoe he was in as well. This is why the majors are so important to us and why we script our athletes in key styles for both apparel and footwear. Our retailers actually look to see what we will be promoting during the majors so that they can stock up and support those items, knowing we will be creating additional demand for them.

What footwear sells more during major tournament time: Styles with a cheaper price point or more expensive looks?

Our hope is always to get a full brand lift, and by having Adidas athletes visible and/or winning, everything we offer sells better. That being said, in general the higher-price performance products typically get the biggest lift because those are the styles on the feet of our athletes and therefore being seen on TV.

Are there any Adidas Golf ambassadors that move the needle more than others?

We’re proud to have four of the top 13 players in the world — Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose — that each create buzz when they’re on or off the course. D.J. is the No. 1 player in the world, so anytime he tees it up, there’s some buzz and attention. That being said, we are proud of all of our athletes. Even though not all of our athletes wear Adidas apparel, they still wear an Adidas shoe. It’s a testament to the fit, quality and performance of our footwear, and Jim Furyk is a great example.

Dustin Johnson Adidas Tour360 Boost Dustin Johnson practicing in the Adidas Tour360 Boost. REX Shutterstock