Sustainability Showdown: Good Sports

Sep 19, 2017 Alex Berry Featured Reports

Adidas and Nike are among America’s most famous corporate rivals, so we thought we’d put their most recent sustainability reports to the test and see who comes up the victor.


Adidas: Calling All Creators

Adidas opts for a simple but bold colour palette in its 2016 Sustainability Progress Report. Though the design is modern, the use of various text sizes ends up creating chaos on the page, to the point of making it hard to read. While bold text and angled layouts do create a sense of motion (running, jumping, sports!) layered photo treatments and block framing make the report look hodgepodge and frantic.

“I see what they’re trying to do from a design perspective and it has legs, but the report ends up being a bit busy, cluttered and at times very challenging to read.” – Kevin Ward, Art Director

Style Points: 6/10

Adidas comes out ahead when it comes to substance, with a strong sustainability strategy that connects with the company’s overall objectives. Clear and ambitious targets showcase a robust materiality process and outline not only their own performance but also the progress of their suppliers. While the report identifies key stakeholders and outlines the methods for engagement, Adidas misses an opportunity by not clearly identifying the key concerns from each group. We would like to have seen the feedback from stakeholders in their own words.

“I was particularly impressed by their reporting related to supplier compliance. The company reported on having to issue 31 warning notices and 10 termination letters to suppliers for noncompliance. This level of transparency will pay off in the long run.” – Sonam Madav, Sustainability Analyst

Technical Performance: 8/10

Overall Score: 70%


Nike: Sustainable Innovation

The cover of Nike’s Sustainable Business Report is vibrant, stylish and symbolic. Simple product photography accompanies clever design to highlight the idea of a company footprint. Inside, infographics easily communicate business process and impacts, while full-page professional photographs break up the content-rich report.

“Whether they’re selling products or communicating their stance on sustainability, Nike applies the same strategic marketing savvy to their CSR report and it shows. Kudos… I could say more but I now feel compelled to go running.” – Kevin Ward, Art Director

Style Points: 9/10

Right off the bat, we do have to knock a full point off due to the fact that Nike has been a total no-show in 2017, as far as their reporting is concerned. With “Innovation” as the central theme of their FY 14/15 report, we would be eager to see how Nike is honouring that promise today. Still, the previous year’s report highlights a commendable optimism within the organization – although we see very few targets identified. The Materials Sustainability Index provides an innovation rating for products, but the content leans too much toward the self-congratulatory for us to award full marks. For example, performance is measured using the smallest of units to maximize the perception of efficiency gains. While tactful, this approach is misleading.

“This report is lacking stakeholder engagement information. Nike’s response to supply chain issues is much too inward-looking for my taste. I’d like to see more transparency from this report.” – Sonam Madav, Sustainability Analyst

Technical Performance: 6/10

Overall Score: 75%


Final Thoughts:

Without a current report from Nike to judge, this race is too tough to call. We’re apt to reserve final judgement until we see Nike’s updated approach to Sustainability disclosure. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled.

Alex Laderoute is a writer and social media strategist at The Works Design Communications.
Alex Berry
Alex Laderoute is a writer and social media strategist at The Works Design Communications.

Alex is part of our writing team and specializes in digital content ranging from social media and blogs to video scripts and SEO strategy. She bikes to work every day, rain or shine – and for that, people call her hardcore. You can find her on Twitter at @imallyberry.

Subscribe to In Scope Digest
Sign up and we’ll send In Scope to you.