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Adidas to launch global ad blitz in 2004 as US sales fall

LONDON - Adidas is to launch a global advertising blitz in 2004 as it faces up to declining sales in the US and competition from rivals such as Nike and Puma.

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The campaign is likely to break next spring and will make a brand statement. However, Adidas would not reveal further details nor how much it plans to spend on the initiative.

There are reports that it will be the biggest advertising campaign Adidas has ever undertaken in the US, where it will be repositioning its brand and would avoid using discounting as a way of increasing sales.

"We will strengthen our emotional connection with consumers in launching a global brand campaign. This will be our first major brand advertising in America in almost five years," said Herbert Hainer, chief executive of Adidas.

Sales in North America dropped by 13% over the past quarter to €459m (£274m), although there was a rise in European sales, as well as in Asia and Latin America. Adidas said that it would be meeting the full-year outlook for 2003.

Adidas sponsors some of the world's biggest sporting stars, including David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Anna Kournikova, all of who have appeared in advertising campaigns for the brand. It trails behind Nike in terms of sales and celebrity clout.

The company retains the Amsterdam-based agency 180 and TBWA\ to create global advertising campaigns, while Nike uses Wieden & Kennedy.

Beckham is currently starring alongside England rugby fly-half Jonny Wilkinson in a series of ads where the pair give each other tips on how to play their respective sports.

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