|Courtesy of Facebook.com/DerrickRose|
In the unpredictable world of sports marketing, it's a phrase to live by.
Adidas knows this all too well.
It happened in April of 2012. Just two months after signing Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose to a 14-year, $250 million dollar contract, he tore his ACL and would be sidelined for at least 9-12 months.
Other sporting goods manufacturers would have shelved Rose and shifted focus on to a different athlete. I mean, really, how can you sell a branded shoe if the athlete is injured?
But in the rubble, Adidas saw an opportunity.
See, what Adidas failed to recognize is that managing the unexpected is an active evaluation of the situation. Just because a campaign ends, it doesn't mean you're home free.
The problem now is that Rose has still not come back.
Under normal circumstances, an athlete's decision to sit out would not be problem. But #TheReturn created such a hype, that it led fans to believe that Rose was in a position to come back sooner, rather than later. And after being teased with this thought for months by Adidas, fans are not taking this outcome well.
Here's the bottom line: If Adidas ever plans to sell another Derrick Rose shoe in the future, it needs to do some major damage control. Waiting any longer to respond or ignoring the issue completely will tarnish its brand image.
Adidas had the right idea with #TheReturn, but the message behind the campaign needs to be reworked going forward. And to do so, Adidas needs to go back to the basics:
Developing an advertising campaign around an injured athlete is risky business, but companies have found a way to make it work. For example, when LA Lakers guard Kobe Bryant went down with an injury last month, Nike released an ad paying homage to him. It was a simple, yet powerful print ad that even caught Bryant off guard.
Regardless of how Adidas chooses to address the "is he coming back-or is he not" soap opera that has become of Rose's life, it's imperative every possible is accounted for.