Watching David Beckham’s free kicks and Zinedine Zidane orchestrating a match defined my childhood. They were the heroes on my wall and their boots were a symbol of creativity, game intelligence and skills. The Predator boot was a game changer in terms of visual evolution and groundbreaking innovation, setting a new standard of how football footwear should look and perform in the 1990’s. Thanks to endless negotiation, I managed to convince my mother to invest in a fresh pair of Predators at that time.
Luckily, 20 years later, I work for adidas and am now part of the relaunch of the most iconic football boot ever. With the typical cleat lover’s excitement I found myself talking to Robert Ashcroft, Category Director for adidas Football about the three major steps of a market disruption that can also be applied as basic principles of (re)building a legendary product like Predator.
1. Push boundaries to surpass expectations
“Football has changed considerably over time; each new era has ushered a new generation and with it brought new challenges. By the 1990’s, playing styles, consumers’ tastes and even culture had evolved significantly. There was a requirement for a product that better reflected the demands and expectations of the modern game,” says Robert.
2. Leverage the icon power
Clearly, iconic moments are not predictable. Still, David Beckham’s 50 yard goal or the 2002 Predator Mania used for Zidane’s UEFA Champions League final volley have become football folklore and are still associated with the boot today. Pulling the right strings from a brand marketing point of view (such as putting an iconic product on even more iconic players’ feet) helped to set the tone for Predator and for what was to come. “It developed a strong and loyal consumer base over many years and many different iterations,” Robert recalls.
3. Think tradition, act innovation
Predator is dead, long live Predator! Missing from the shelves for three years but never gone from the hearts of footballers, the boot was reintroduced a few weeks ago. Does it seem like a continuation rather than a reinvention? A little bit of both: Following the route from authenticity to progression by taking that raw DNA which has become synonymous with the brand and the product and remixing it with modern-day innovations to create the future. Think tradition, act innovation!
“We take elements from the past, which we know are distinct and still relevant to modern-day consumers, and combine them with the latest technology and materials to meet the demands of the modern game,” as Robert puts it. The iconic Predator technology is blended with the latest laceless execution. “What we are then able to achieve is a concept which pushes a boot to the next level, not to mention a super disruptive look and absolutely incredible feeling, worthy of the Predator name.”
With Predator back in business, the stage is set for more iconic moments for some of the best players around the world while I have the chance to see if some of my old moves have gotten even better with this legendary boot.