Typically with every corporation you have an end of year report to evaluate what went well and what could be better going forward. With the NBA right now, there are a number of associated companies currently deciding what changes they need to make in the new year. Major decisions will be evaluated and analyzed to see how they affected the bottomline. Of course it’s easy to say a decision made was good if things happened to work out. Not everyone thought the LA Lakers were making great decisions, but now that they have won the championship, they can say those decisions were great because it all worked out.
Recently, Adidas decided they need to move on from Reebok. They purchased the company back in 2005 for almost $4 billion, but are now essentially saying this purchase is no longer worth it to them. Two companies that are rumoured to purchase Reebok are Timberland and Anta. Growing up in Chicago, Timberland boots were an extremely sought-after item, especially the tan color. They have been heavily associated with the black community. Anta on the other hand is a brand that despite having black athletes like Klay Thompson, have said nothing on this year’s social movements and Black Lives Matter. Reebok is an athletic apparel company that black people wear and they once had one of the most culturally-influential players in the NBA, Allen Iverson, as a signature athlete. I can understand Anta using this potential purchase as inroads into the black community, but to me this purchase wouldn’t make sense because they have made it clear they do not care about the black community. In my opinion, this is just an opportunity for them to attempt to make money off the black community without doing anything to support it.
I understand that business is business, but I think there is some responsibility for Adidas to sell Reebok to a company that will respect and understand the demographics Reebok serves. To sell it to just any brand, like Anta, who have clearly shown they do not care about the black community through their silence, it puts the integrity of the brand at risk, and it associates Adidas with bringing the brand down. As previously mentioned, Reebok has a long standing relationship with consumers, especially those in the black community. With Adidas dedication this year to supporting that community, it seems counterproductive to make a potential sale that would put this brand at risk. I think supporting the community happens at multiple levels and there is a responsibility for Adidas to maintain that community support in all their business deals.
In the past several decades the black community has seen companies show a lack of care towards them and it’s taken a lot of time and work to begin to change this. It’s still a process and fortunately we’ve made some strides this year. Companies here in the United States have had to adapt and understand where they’ve gone wrong. If you’re an outsider trying to break into the market share in this country, you need to be aware of the social issues in this country. If you’re trying to come in without adapting and understanding where we come from, you will not be successful. The brand will fail and I would hate to see Reebok fall because a company like Anta fails to adapt their messaging to understand their target audience.
There have been recent discussions of possibly moving the Toronto Raptors team to Kansas temporarily while the US and Canada deal with the Covid pandemic and closed borders. As Kansas City reckons with this possibility, KC Civil Rights groups have alerted and “warned” the Raptors organization of the ongoing fight for civil liberties and social justice programs, informing the Raptors ownership group that much will be expected of them if they move there. Accordingly, it will be only right if Adidas as the parent company informs whomever buys Reebok, and lets say for argument sake it is Anta, that Reebok and Adidas make known what is expected of Anta if they decide to move forward with the purchase. This would demonstrate Adidas commitment to supporting their communities and speaking up on behalf of those communities that drive their business.
In summary, if Anta does go forward with this purchase, I hope they are made aware of the expectations this brand comes with and can step up to the plate when it comes to their own messaging. If they can’t acknowledge this and participate in this movement, I don’t think they will survive long term.