Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Agassi in Adidas

So Andre Agassi has retired. Many people have written about his career, his achievements, but one aspect in particular has called my attention. It’s the story of his transformation, from the young punk, a "rock and roll” tennis player to the bald statesman of the sport. Gary Smith, of Sports Illustrated, wrote a wonderful piece about it.
I love these stories of redemption, of people growing up, facing difficulties, but coming out better persons, with a broader perspective and reach.
Some examples come to mind. Tom Hanks, from teen comedy actor in “Big” to award-winning actor in “Philadelphia”, George Foreman from the fierce-looking boxer who lost to Muhammad Ali to the big-hearted, grill-selling grandaddy, "The Beatles" of “She Loves You” to "The Beatles" of “In My Life”.
For marketers and branding practitioners, Agassi’s transformation is even more interesting given the fact that he changed from Nike to Adidas late in his career, the change in sponsor seeming to highlight the person’s transformation. It’s as if the Nike brand (and the whole set of meanings conveyed by it) couldn’t fit with this new Agassi anymore.

Obviously there must’ve been very strong financial reasons behind this decision, not to say the family arguments over which brand his kids would use (the latter was his ultimate excuse to switch to Adidas given his wife’s long association with the German brand).
For me though, it still feels weird to see him wearing Adidas. Just a thought.

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