We speak to adidas Football Category Manager Aubrey Dolan about modern performance design at the three stripes.
How would you describe the current era of adidas performance design?
I’d say we at adidas Football are in an era of aggressiveness. If we look at the Predator Instinct, we’ve created a product that is very aggressive, very dominant and has a very strong personality. What we want to deliver is products that represent the spirits of our players.
Is there more opportunity for innovation now than ever before?
There will always be opportunity and we have to make opportunity. It’s our job and our responsibility to make sure we can find opportunity. The game is continuing to change at an amazing pace. We as a brand and as a team are continuing to challenge ourselves to set higher standards and adapt to change. As a brand we’ve talked about leading, not copying which means we always need to be at the pinnacle of innovation. Looking specifically, Predator is a household name in football but if you look at how the product has evolved it has a new character, a new spirit and it needs to be always relevant to the player of today.
Is this the quickest you've seen things accelerating in football boot design?
Without a shadow of a doubt. Speed is king, speed wins. We always talk about being consumer centric and being relevant to the player. The demand of the consumer is changing so fast that we’ve needed to change our mechanisms to deliver what they need. Our ambition is to always be one step ahead. If we look at the marketplace alone with Predator, it’s twenty years old and has had fourteen generations, five of those have come in the last five years. Desire for product, desire for newness and desire for performance benefits and what we describe as perceived innovation, this is what is at the heart and soul of what we do.
How many ideas are you R&D team working on at any given time?
Our responsibility is to create pools of ideas and then go through them to see what makes actual sense. You need to have a certain left-field attitude and a certain degree of madness in this job. Only through having these left-field ideas can you create something in the end that is very relevant. We’re a brand that prides ourselves on performance innovation and on quality so we need to ensure that our ideas deliver this. Are they consumer relevant? Do they make sense for the athlete?
Is it sometimes a challenge to rein in some of those crazier ideas?
Reality will hold us in and there will always be certain limitations, but we need to respect that athletes and consumers need rational, functional footwear. At the same time we need to deliver to consumers emotional needs and it’s up to us to create desire for our products. If we talk about Predator in particular, it’s an example of a product which was lethal, which was deadly and which gave precision and control. From a personality point of view, it was very aggressive and was an animal on the field of play. I think for us we always need to amplify those ideas and then within the creative team, with design and with development, work very closely to deliver very specific visual directions.
What does the future of adidas Football look like?
The future of football for adidas will always be about pushing boundaries. We will start and finish with the athlete, we will create products that give players an unfair advantage. This was how Predator started; 100% legal, 0% fair. This was the heart and soul of ’94 and today in 2014 we will continue to look for cross-category and cross-industry ideas that will really make a difference and give players a performance edge and give them the opportunity to express themselves in a way which you currently can’t do.