Adidas brings Messi and Facebook to the fore

Adidas is making Barcelona FC star Lionel Messi the sole star of its online football activity and switching to using Facebook as the primary campaign channel as it looks to stretch its lead over Nike in the growing football apparel market.

AdidasLionelMessi-Person-2013
Adidas is putting the Argentinian international at the heart of its digital marketing.

The sportswear brand has created a dedicated Facebook app to act as the hub of all future activity with the reigning World Footballer of the Year. It is launching the push by inviting fans to “star” alongside the footballer in a series of interactive films in exchange for joining ‘Team Messi’, an online branded content hub.

Fans can share the personalised films, which promote the Adidas collection of Messi boots, with friends from the hub.

The brand worked with We Are Social to create the hub, which is supported by TV, digital and PR activity to promote the boots, while ‘Team Messi’ creative will form the basis of all its in store displays for the apparel range.

Adidas says it will use the striker as the “foundation” of its football strategy. The sportswear brand is looking to exploit the Argentinian’s global appeal over its other football ambassadors to boost awareness ahead of next year’s World Cup. Previous activity has featured Messi alongside Manchester United and Holland’s Robin van Persie, Chelsea and Brazil star Oscar and Spain’s Fernando Torres.

The business is increasing investment on marketing its football apparel in 2013 after focusing the majority of its marketing last year around its sponsorship of the Olympic Games . Both Nike, which uses Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo in promotions and Puma, launched high-profile football campaigns in 2012.

Adidas’ football focus is part of a series of marketing campaigns planned for 2013. It launched a global campaign to promote its range of Boost running shoes in February and last month it unveiled initiatives for its women’s and Adidas Originals ranges.

Adidas expects group sales to increase at a mid-single-digit rate from 2012’s record level of €14.9bn, though with a slower start to the year.

It is in the process of finalising sponsorship plans for next year’s World Cup in Brazil, where it will be an official sponsor. It hopes to build on the success of the social media strategy and cross-media ‘Take the Stage’ London 2012 activity.

Viewpoint

The football market is set to be as hotly contested as the women’s apparel market for sports brands this year as marketers look to exploit excitement around next year’s World Cup. Adidas is pinning its hopes on the popularity of the Messi brand.

Although focusing its 2012 activity on the Olympics didn’t hit sales – revenues from football-related products reached a record level of more than €1.7bn – the brand will be wary of the advances Nike made in the category, particularly in Europe. Nike saw sales jump 13 per cent in the region during its third quarter and is currently promoting its Mercurial Vapor 9 football boot.

Adidas, however, can not just rely on Messi’s global following to retain its status as the top football brand in the world by sales. It will need to do what Nike cannot, call on its rich and deep history in the game if it is to stave off its rivals’ aggressive advances.

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