Todd Stansbury answers questions about Adidas launch

Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury speaks during a football uniform reveal party in Atlanta, Friday, August 3, 2018.  (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury speaks during a football uniform reveal party in Atlanta, Friday, August 3, 2018. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Online retailer Fanatics apparently didn’t have an accurate gauge on how much Georgia Tech fans want Adidas gear.

As a result, Fanatics sold out of the new replica football jerseys made by Adidas in less than 48 hours. The $100 item went up for sale Friday night and by Sunday afternoon was out of stock. (The jerseys were back up for sale Tuesday on the Fanatics website, and remain for sale at the campus Barnes & Noble bookstore.)

“I think they didn’t anticipate the run that they had,” athletic director Todd Stansbury told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It is pent-up demand. I don’t even know if the Adidas guys realized what an impact this was for us in this partnership, and so I think that, one, they’re pretty happy, and, obviously, it’s something that we’re pretty excited about because, of course, this is just the beginning.”

After the conclusion of Tech’s partnership with Russell Athletic that often left fans wanting, the demand is such that a section of Tech fans have expressed their frustrations with not being able to purchase Adidas gear sooner. Shortly after Tech’s contract with Adidas went into effect on July 1, the athletic department communicated through its Twitter account that apparel would be available by mid-July in stores and through online retail, guidance it took from Adidas.

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Adidas apparel was slower in reaching the marketplace and in a limited range of items. On the Fanatics website on Tuesday, for instance, there were 11 Tech Adidas items – a mix of the jersey, shirts, jackets and a pair of sweatpants – none designed for women or children.

Stansbury said the inability to make products available for sale sooner was beyond Tech’s control, as it is not part of the chain that connects manufacturers to retailers.

“Obviously, Georgia Tech Adidas apparel has been available – not as much as we would want – so we were trying to push up some of their ability to get things out there,” Stansbury said. “But ultimately, it’s their supply chain and it’s hard for them to just totally change the timing on the way that they do things. That’s why I think, now that we’re into their cycle, our fans will start to see that August of every year is going to be the typical time for them to be loading up the retail stores and that sort of thing.”

When Arizona State switched from Nike to Adidas in 2015, Adidas gear reportedly went on sale in mid-August. A Rutgers spokesman recalled that the majority of Adidas items reached the marketplace at the end of July or early August when the school transitioned from Nike to Adidas last year.

Stansbury assured that “more and more stuff will become available” in coming weeks and months. The amount of Adidas apparel sold on the Fanatics website for other schools with longer relationships than Tech gives an indication of the choices that could be available over time. Texas A&M has 247 items from Adidas, Arizona State 161, Miami 104 and N.C. State 96, among others.

Stansbury also explained the decision to reveal the new uniform on a Friday night while also not announcing the event beforehand, not the standard method for drawing attention. The event was staged at a venue in downtown Atlanta with a commanding view of the skyline. It was a limited-invitation event focused on younger season-ticket holders and donors to the athletic department.

The guests were given a surprise when WWE wrestler Roman Reigns, also known as former Tech captain Joe Anoa’i, modeled the uniform. Stansbury said staff from the athletic department and Adidas debated different ways of doing the launch, but wanted to do something a little different.

“So the idea was, let’s make it a different event, and also we wanted to showcase our location, knowing that Atlanta and kind of the pop culture is such an important part of the Adidas strategy,” Stansbury said. “And that was a way for us to kind of meld those things, because the backdrop was pretty dramatic.”

Further, the involvement of Reigns and WWE (3.3 million and 10.1 million Twitter followers, respectively, compared to the football team’s 57,000) “provided us a platform that we may not normally have,” Stansbury said. “I felt like it was a home run.”

Response to the uniform has been largely positive, from fans to team members to recruits. There were questions, though, about the fact that both uniforms unveiled were white, sets for home and road games. Tech is one of the rare schools that dresses in white jerseys for home games. By NCAA rules, the school has to receive permission from the visiting team to do so, and on occasion, that permission is not granted, meaning that the Jackets have to wear non-white jerseys on those occasions.

Stansbury said that Adidas is “definitely designing other alternatives knowing that those potential situations do come up.”

Cam Collins, Adidas’ senior production manager for football apparel, said that the design might be ready later this season, otherwise 2019.