RG3's New Adidas Logo Is Smart Business, Bad Timing

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Adidas (NASDAQOTH: ADDYY  ) and Robert Griffin III probably never imagined the controversy a logo would create. The Washington Redskins quarterback and his apparel sponsor revealed a new look that capitalizes on the nickname "RG3" earlier this week. Despite a generally positive fan response, some pundits argue that on the heels of a 3-13 record and a late-season benching, Griffin's focus should be on football, and nothing else. Are they right?

The 'superhero' look
One of those critics is Mark Schlereth. On ESPN's NFL Live, Schlereth questioned Griffin's logo. He asked (via The Washington Post), "You know, are we working on branding ourselves, or are we working on becoming a great football player?" After the feud escalated into a Twitter war with Griffin himself, Schlereth added, "the whole aspect of creating your own personal logo is kind of ridiculous…. What are you, a superhero?"

Source: Instagram, rgiii.

If the design of the logo is any indication, that's what Griffin is going for. He's not the first. Fellow Adidas athletes Derrick Rose, Lionel Messi, and Dwight Howard also have their own logos, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell, and each appear to be inspired by the idea that sports stars are superheroes. 

From top to bottom: Lionel Messi's logo, Dwight Howard's logo, Derrick Rose's logo. Adidas.

From that standpoint, Griffin's logo is hardly groundbreaking. Nor is it as audacious as it looks. But unlike Messi, Howard, or Rose, Griffin and Adidas are introducing it at a curious time. The Redskins' problems were well-documented last season, and Griffin's play declined in nearly every statistical category. 

Howard, on the other hand, unveiled his logo after a career season in 2011. Rose revealed his a little over a year after winning the NBA MVP award, and Messi's came during his four-year streak as the UEFA Champions League's top scorer.

What can consumers expect?
Adidas and Griffin could have chosen better timing to introduce the "RG3" brand. Now that it's public, though, the logo will likely don Adidas shoes, shirts, hats, and every other type of merchandise imaginable. Griffin has already marketed the company's Springblade shoe line, along with a few retro-themed tees.

As Rovell explains, Adidas also "sublicenses phrases from Griffin's company, Thr3escompany...including 'Go Catch Your Dream' and 'Unbelievably Believable,'" so expect to continue to see those too.

The bottom line
Although the terms of Robert Griffin III's deal with Adidas are undisclosed, it's thought he makes at least $3 million from his endorsements each year, according to Bleacher Report. And with Derrick Rose netting over $18 million a year from the apparel maker, it's possible that estimate is on the low side. Remember, Griffin did finish seventh on Forbes' list of most-liked NFL players last year, so it's hard to argue he isn't marketable. 

Where detractors have a point, though, is with regard to the timing of his logo's release. It would've been smarter to make the announcement when the vibes surrounding the Redskins were... well, better.

The team's recent signing of DeSean Jackson gives their star QB a sorely needed speed threat on the outside, something that could boost Griffin's numbers next year. But should Adidas have waited a bit longer to unveil the logo? Say, after Griffin had a big game, or at least in a year where the Redskins didn't finish dead last in the NFC East. That would've made it much tougher for pundits to justify their criticism.

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Jake Mann

Jake Mann covers sports, economics and politics for the Motley Fool.

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9/3/2015 1:00 PM
ADDYY $37.42 Up +0.19 +0.50%
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