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June 2016
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What Does Adidas’ Fame Have to Do with Fidel Castro?

What Does Adidas’ Fame Have to Do with Fidel Castro? / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 4 June 2016 — A study conducted by the firm Boston
Consulting Group reveals some very curious findings, which I find
questionable, about Cuban consumers. It claims that Adidas is the best
known brand on the island due, according to this report, “in large part
because of Fidel Castro’s preference for the company’s tracksuits.”

The former commander-in-chief was unquestionably the ultimate promoter
of Cuban Revolution abroad. It can be logical to assume that, in a
country — and I am talking here about demographics — that is one of the
oldest in the Americas, its citizens still look up to the irreverent,
bearded young man who angrily challenged US interests from his podium in
“the plaza.” But actually it is something much simpler. The leader has
grown old and is now looked upon with a certain nostalgia by people over
the age of fifty-five.

Certainly every time Cuba’s nonagenarian former president appears on
television or in the national press, it becomes an international news
event, with his name and image splash across world headlines. But on the
island it has the opposite effect, one of saturation and annoyance.

It is unrealistic to think that Adidas is popular on the island because
Fidel Castro wears its label. This ignores the fact that, until 2012,
the German brand was the official sponsor of the Cuban National Olympic
Committee and equipped all its athletes with clothes used in both
training and competition.

It is for this reason that all of Cuba’s top leaders, not just Fidel,
sport the German brand. The stores run by the Ministry of the Interior,
especially those managed by the presidential security service, are
always fully stocked with clothing and footwear by Adidas. And until a
very recent and much-talked-about corruption scandal, sweatshops run by
an arm of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and
Recreation were turning out unauthorized and obviously fake versions of
Adidas merchandise.

It is hard now to remember that the Cuban judo athlete Daima Beltral,
who moved us to tears at the time, was wearing an Adidas tracksuit when
she was awarded silver medals at the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000) and
Athens (2004). That at the IAAF World Championships in Budapest on March
14, 1989 Javier Sotomayor set a new world record of 2.43 meters in the
high jump wearing Adidas shorts and sweat shirt. And when the track and
field athlete Dayron Robles and the wrestler Mijain Lopez became the
only Cubans to win Olympic medals in Beijing in 2008, they were both
wearing Adidas.

This, and not the tedious image of an old, worn-out dictator, were some
of the emotional moments that on a subliminal level set the Adidas brand
apart from all other sportswear labels in Cubans’ minds.

Source: What Does Adidas’ Fame Have to Do with Fidel Castro? / Juan Juan
Almeida – Translating Cuba –

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