Friday
Mar182011

Q&A: Why Adidas' New Marketing Campaign Did An 'About Face' To Move Ahead 

In 2010, adidas supported its category ownership of the World Cup as an official global partner of FIFA via a major worldwide campaign that included multi-media and on-site activation in South Africa, and featured athletes and artists from around the world. In 2011, adidas is upping the ante with "All adidas," described by the sportswear and athletic shoe company as the "celebration of the game face – the look of glory or defeat we reveal at the most pivotal moment in the game." According to Britt Jorgenson, adidas America director of brand marketing for sport performance, the company put on its own game face preparing to activate behind "the largest marketing effort" in its history.

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
(Posted March 17, 2011)


Adidas Group had, according to its own figures, a stellar year in 2010. A global campaign to support is official alliance with the FIFA World Cup included TV, print, outdoor and Internet and incorporated athletes and artists from around the world, such as David Beckham and Snoop Dogg. Adidas also signed a new eight-year, $200 million deal with Major League Soccer to extend and enhance a partnership that has been in place since the league was formed in 1996.

Based on these and other initiatives,  Herzogenaurach, Germany-based adidas AG said in a financial report released in early March that profits were up 131% and that sales hit $17 billion.

With no Olympic Games or World Cup in 2011, adidas has unveiled "All adidas," with the tag, "All in." As the name implies, adidas has called in athletes — including NBA players Derrick Rose and Howard, soccer stars David Beckham and Lionel Messi and skateboarders Silas Baxter-Neal, Lem Villemin and Jake Donnelly — musicians such as Katy Perry and B.o.B. and adidas spokespersons from the world of fashion. It also features for the first time the Adidas Sport Performance, Adidas Originals and Adidas Sport Style sub-brands in a single campaign.

The campaign officially launched March 16 via 30- and 60-second TV spots, print, and Internet, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. The media buy includes network and cable such as Fox's America Idol, MTV, Comedy Central, ESPN and during programming for both the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments. Lead agency is Montreal-based agency Sid Lee.

Spend for the "All adidas" campaign was not disclosed. According to the adidas Group 2010 Annual Report, the 2010 marketing working budget worldwide was $1.8 billion, up from $1.44 billion in 2009. The marketing working budget "consists of promotion and communication spending such as promotion contracts, advertising, events and other communication activities," according to the Annual Report.

Adidas said the heart of the campaign is the "celebration of the game face – the look of glory or defeat we reveal at the most pivotal moment in the game." As such, adidas is directing people to a dedicated Facebook page to submit their own "best game face" photo. The top ones will be considered to be part of a special TV spot alongside adidas stars to air during the MTV Movie Awards on June 5.

Britt Jorgenson, adidas America's Portland, Ore.-based director of brand marketing for sport performance, spoke with NYSportsJournalism about the year-long process to launch "All adidas" and the strategy that will keep it going.

Katy Perry puts on her game face in adidas' new campaign.NYSportsJournalism: Adidas is calling the new campaign its largest in company history. What makes this larger than the 2010 World Cup effort?
Britt Jourgenson: In terms of ambition, the number of people we are going to reach and also in terms of investment, it is the largest one adidas has ever done. So the reason this is our biggest campaign in company history is that we want to make sure that this message gets through loud and clear and that our target audience — every single high school kid in America — is exposed to this campaign and also has an opportunity to participate in the campaign through consumer promotions.

NYSJ: How long has this been planned?
BJ: It started about a year ago. The campaign kicked off in Germany, and we've been working very closely with our people there to dial up the U.S. references and the U.S. storyline. To make sure we have an impact and an authentic presence within the U.S. marketing. We partnered with the global brand to develop storylines and components that are specific to the U.S. market. So it really has been going on for the past year. And we're excited that it's finally in the U.S. market.

NYSJ: Now that the nucleus of the campaign has broken, what will follow over the next four-to-six weeks?
BJ: We have been unveiling and pushing the TV and digital media components. But we will have a deeper dive into the storylines of the athletes and artists that will be rolling out, mainly through out Facebook communities. We will dive more into Derrick Rose's story. More into Lionel Messi's story. More into Katy's story. A lot more content will be coming out.

NYSJ: The campaign includes musicians such as Katy Perry and rapper B.o.B. in addition to sports stars. What was the strategy behind that?
BJ: This is intended to be a brand campaign and what we feel about the world of sports, music and fashion. The music element is very important for adidas, dating back to the 1980s with Run-DMC [who have worn adidas shoes and clothing on-stage throughout their career] and many musicians since. We are running spots during American Idol and on MTV. A Facebook component is encouraging people to download their own game faces for the chance to be part of a special commercial that will air during the MTV Awards in June.

"We have credibility within the music world, not just with Katy Perry and B.o.B. today, but going back to Run-DMC in the 1980s."

NYSJ: How will you get people involved regarding the Facebook-MTV Awards element?
BJ: We are asking people to submit their most interesting and emotional game faces to our Facebook site,  and we will pick the best to run alongside Dwight, Derrick, Katy Perry in a commercial that will air during the MTV Awards. We will be supporting the Facebook consumer promotion with a series of events over the next couple of weeks: Dwight Howard interacting with high school kids in Orlando at an event in which they will show him their game faces. We are going to do a football-related event in Los Angeles with [NFL players] Eric Berry and Reggie Bush, again with high school kids. We have Far East Movement doing a concert in Los Angeles. We will have our skate team dropping into a skateboard park in Phoenix and interacting with kids there. And we will be working with Lionel Messi and the Argentina national team when they play a friendly soccer match against the U.S. national team at the New Meadowlands on March 26. We will have an event that brings high school kids together and invites them to participate in the Facebook promotion.

Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls is having an MVP season and raising his profile worldwide.NYSJ: How important is it for adidas to get sports consumers to associate the company with music, and vice versa?
BJ: The purpose of the campaign for us is about fusing the worlds of sports, music and fashion to tell a story that only our brand can. We have a unique position in the marketplace. We have credibility in sports and on the field of play. We have credibility within the music world. And we also have great credibility and partnerships within the fashion world when you look at the work we've done with Stella McCartney, with Yohji Yamamoto and the decade or so of work we've done together. As well as the work we're doing with Jeremy Scott and James Bond on the Originals side. So we absolutely have credibility across all three of those categories.

NYSJ: How is this being emphasized in the campaign to reach consumers?
BJ: The inspiration for the campaign was to play up our unique position in the market, which we think reflects the reality of our core consumer: High school kids. They, more than any other group, live their passion every single day. Be it in sports, music or art. And in a lot of days, all of them. They don't compartmentalize their lives. They are really comfortable living across the whole cultural spectrum. And we think that's where we have our edge.

NYSJ: When people in the U.S. see such adidas endorsers as David Beckham and Lionel Messi, they pretty much can identify them right away. Does that hold true for NBA players Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose overseas?
BJ: Although I primarily focus on U.S. marketing, I can say that what I've seen globally, the NBA and it's stars are very well known. Certainly in China, Dwight and Derrick are very popular. Dwight was on the U.S, team that won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. And they both will be part of a tour in China during the NBA off-season. And there is a strong recognition of them in Europe.

NYSJ: With both Howard and Rose in the NBA MVP discussion, how has that affected the campaign?
BJ: Dwight has been at that level but Derrick is now among the league's top players with what he is doing this season. So if there were people who didn't really watch him before, they are now. But it is more than what they do on the court. Dwight has such great charisma and a great personality. Derrick is a little bit more shy, a bit more quiet, but people are starting to see more of his personality.

David Beckham continues to be a significant component in adidas marketing.NYSJ: Will this have additional components during the NBA playoffs?
BJ: We definitely are looking at a lot of take-downs as we move into the spring and summer. But the main push for this campaign is March and April. The consumer promotion on Facebook will take us through the first week of June at the MTV Awards. So that does coincide perfectly with the NBA playoffs.

NYSJ: Did Dwight Howard ever interact with Katy Perry or any of the others or were they aware who else would be in the campaign?
BJ: Not necessarily in person, but they were aware. It was a very complex shoot, as you might imagine, that took several months in several cities around the world. And as we were shooting each of the athletes or artists, we would talk to them about context of the broader concept, and everyone was very excited to see how it would all come together.

NYSJ: Why was it decided to include Sport Performance, adidas Originals and adidas Sport Style together in a campaign for the first time?
BJ: It goes back again to our unique position of having credibility and partnerships within the sports, music and fashion worlds. With the momentum we had in 2010, with the World Cup campaign, our basketball campaign with Dwight and Derrick, we felt this was the perfect time to continue to build on that momentum and bring all of the facets of our brand together.

NYSJ: In the U.S., adidas ran a series of 5- and 10-second spots just prior to breaking the longer commercials. What was the reaction to that strategy?
BJ: We received a lot of feedback. And we accomplished what we set out to do. They were intended to grab the attention of the market and get people wondering what the heck adidas was up to and what was coming. So we received a lot of comments to that effect. "Was that Katy Perry?" "Was that B.o.B.?" Was that D-Rose?" People were excited about the images and wanted to know was coming next.

"It's about making sure we get the message out there in as big a way as possible. And we are absolutely confident that we are going to do that."
 
NYSJ: With all of the components and various athletes and artists, what challenges do you see in reaching people and getting the adidas message across?
BJ: I don't know that there are any unique challenges from a messaging standpoint. It's all about having a message that resonates with our target consumer and making sure that we are delivering it in environments and through channels that are relevant. The role that social media plays is always important and always evolving. It really is a foundation of a lot of what we are going to be doing over the next month and a half when you look at how we are distributing a lot of the content and how we are using that as a platform to really drive consumer promotion. Basically, it's really about making sure that we get the message out there in as big a way as possible. And we are absolutely confident that we are going to do that.

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