By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
January 5, 2011: The new year has barely started, but long-time rivals adidas and Nike already are going toe-to-toe in anticipation of the Australian Open, the first of four tennis Grand Slams in 2011.
Among the players who sporting adidas athletic shoes and outfits will be Andy Murray, Jo Tsonga, Ana Ivanovic and Fernando Verdasco. Nike will counter with athletes including defending champion Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, defending woman's champion Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Juan Martin del Potro and Li Na.
The Australian Open will be played Jan. 17-30 in Melbourne. It will be shown in the U.S. on ESPN and The Tennis Channel.
In anticipation of the tournament, adidas has unveiled "Find Them Fast," an interactive search around the world to find missing pairs of adizero Feather shoes belonging to Tsonga, Ivanovic and Verdasco, as well as missing pairs of adizero F50 Prime boots belonging to soccer star Lionel Messi, all of which were "stolen" from adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
Consumers will be given clues now through the start of the Australian Open via such media outlets as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The first set of clues is now accessible at YouTube via "surveillance camera footage" that shows the actual theft of the adidas shoes.
Meanwhile, Nike has started to activate behind the Australian Open by unveiling a collection of shoes and sportswear for Federer, Nadal, Sharapova and del Potro, respectively. A series of clips on YouTube, in addition to a dedicated Australian Open micro-site linked to Nike's home page, will support.
Australian Open marketing partners that will activate for the tournament via multi-media campaigns as well as on-site include IBM, Kia, Rolex, Jacob's Creek, ANZ, Panasonic, Powerade, Evian, Heineken, Virgin Blue Airlines and Wilson, which is expected to supply "4,000 dozen" tennis balls. ESPN will also support its coverage in the U.S. with TV and online efforts.
Separately, adidas is teaming with clothing company Diesel to produce five different limited-edition sports shoes, including two retro styles based on footwear worn by tennis icon Stan Smith. The two brands, which previously collaborated for a special denim collection in 2008, said that the exclusive Diesel/adidas Originals sneaker collection are scheduled to launch Jan. 20, with only 10,000 pairs available globally at Diesel stores on online via Diesel and adidas.
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