Creating valuable customer experience is kind of brave. Coming up with ideas that serve the brand must be done without fear. Being responsible for the results takes courage.
Daring To Be Different.
5 min. reading
Adidas is a leading producer of sportswear, footwear and accessories, thriving on the market since 1949. During this time, the brand with its iconic stripes has come a long way and has employed various approaches to developing itself. Since 2014, it has gradually incorporated experiential marketing for connecting its products and customers through innovative experiences. And it's doing very well. It fully embraced this approach in 2019, and now the experiential strategy is its main communication tool. It has become an important link between the real and online worlds to support sales and build customer relationships.
Adidas first embarked on experiments with the experiential approach in 2014. That year, the Predator soccer cleats, worn by such stars of the sport as Steven Gerrard and Zinedine Zidane, celebrated their 20th anniversary. However, the younger generation's interest was rather lukewarm.
Adidas decided to fix this and launched a worldwide campaign to this end. Its core was a special brand experience – a video game arena in London, where people could test their soccer skills in an action game. Though only available for five days, 500 fans tried it out, and it sparked high media interest.
A number of original activities followed that enthralled the “three-stripe” fan base and helped the brand consolidate its market position. Unique collections of sneakers for special occasions were also developed, one of them being in cooperation with the German transport company BVG.
Adidas and BVG created a sneaker edition that included an annual public transport ticket. In total, only 500 pairs were produced. People stood in line for three days and the sneakers completely sold out in just an hour.
Sneakers created to mark the occasion of the popular Oktoberfest beer festival also aroused interest on the German market. They bore the inscription “Prost” (i.e., “Cheers”), and were impregnated with protection against spills and vomiting, which can definitely be useful during Oktoberfest.
As you can see, Adidas shoes can take on almost any form. The iconic Superstar sneakers were made, for example, of LEGO building blocks and sold for more than CZK 2,000.
Of course, the brand also creates activities even more strongly associated with causes cherished by its audience - for example, the elimination of the plastic polluting our planet. For this purpose, it created special UltraBOOST Parley shoes in the color combination Deep Ocean Blue. These were designed in support of the global running movement Run for the Oceans and were created from 11 plastic bottles that would have otherwise ended up in the ocean.
In 2021, Adidas announced that it would donate $1 to Parley Ocean Plastic – up to a total of $1 million – for every kilometer run with a special application. In 2022, it announced that it would remove one plastic bottle every 10 minutes up to a weight of 250,000 kg.
Thanks to the involvement of the Adidas brand, over 8 million runners have participated in the run in recent years, and they have run over 8 million kilometers and contributed to producing 50 million pairs of shoes from recycled plastic bottles.
Adidas' experience marketing strategy has paid off and has been a constant part of its marketing mix since 2019. It plays an important role in increasing purchases from existing customers, promoting repeat purchases, and reaching new audiences. Live activations are attracting significant attention to the brand in the digital world and in the media.
Another event worth mentioning is one called “Ghost Drop” in Mumbai, India. Locals had the opportunity to win mysterious items from Adidas in selected stores. There were queues in the stores and the event was actively supported by more than 300 sneaker lovers across the city.
Sharad Singla, Brand Marketing Director for Adidas India, said:
“This was one of the most innovative and engaging activities of the sportswear and streetwear brand, bringing together a community of sneaker lovers in the city.”
"Similar branding and marketing innovations have proven to be a breakthrough concept for the Adidas Originals brand, because they helped it gain a network of influencers and rich consumer experience.“
Singla added that thanks to great achievements in experiential marketing, they plan to expand this strategy to other cities.
Experience marketing is far from being for sneakers alone. In 2021, Adidas wanted to introduce its new inclusive swimwear collection in the United Arab Emirates, and on this occasion, it created the first water-filled, swimmable billboard. Women could immediately try out their purchased swimsuits. The billboard was five meters deep, three meters wide, and even won the Cannes Lions advertising creativity competition in the Outdoor category.
Last year, Adidas expanded its activities into virtual reality. On the occasion of launching the Ozworld collection, an eponymous “world” was created in which users could create their own avatar using artificial intelligence. And the avatar is of course dressed in Adidas brand products.
These brand activations are but a short list of the activities that Adidas has undertaken throughout the world in recent years. In its own words, it plans to continue. Adidas is currently following a five-year strategy called “Own the game”, which is expected to be operational till 2025. Adidas said of the strategy:
“Sports constitute the past, present and future of our society. “Own the Game” puts consumers at the center of everything we do.”
“We want to continue to increase brand credibility, deepen our consumer experience and push the boundaries of sustainability.”
Adidas has fully engaged in experiential marketing for nearly a decade, and during this time, it has come up with several very original ideas that have gained the attention of both its fans and the general public. Reaction to current events in the world, cooperation with popular companies, focus on the environment, and listening to customer requirements together make Adidas a strong brand that is regularly discussed in superlatives.
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To get inspired and learn how brand leaders do it, visit the Banana Papers. The best live marketing archive helping brand managers succeed in the current Age of Experience.
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