Adidas UK marketing boss on why its marketing is no longer just about ‘showing off product’

Having recently hosted ‘The X’ pop up at Victoria Park, which was created to provide young women with free fitness training experiences, Adidas UK’s head of brand marketing Barry Moore says the brand is moving to a more “responsible and spontaneous” marketing model to reintroduce itself to the new generation.

Using pop-ups to make a social impact

The X-shaped training space (pictured) was erected in part to promote the brand’s new PureBoost X women’s running shoe. However, it was also designed to provide women with a place to jog and exercise during the park’s darker winter period (18-28 February).

Moore told Marketing Week: “We saw that the jogging path was closed in Victoria Park during the winter months so jogging rates among women in the area went right down as the conditions were unsuitable.

“We had a chance to be really useful and make a social impact. We don’t just want to show off products anymore, we want to truly evolve our relationship with consumers.”

The X is part of a wider investment in experiential pop-ups as Adidas focuses on its new city-based marketing structure, which centres its efforts around six global cities – LA, New York, London, Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Last August, for example, Adidas hosted BaseBrixton, a tournament for amateur freestyle footballers to tie-in with the launch of the brand’s new football boots the ACE15 and X15. It also recently hosted live music events at the Adidas Future House venue in Shoreditch to promote its new NMD LDN shoe range.

And Moore said that pop-up activity is giving Adidas an edge over its rivals.

“[The pop-ups] are a deliberate plan as we want to make sure we are offering value beyond the product and giving our fans something other brands in this space don’t offer; true engagement and social values” he explained.

“We’ve seen a significant rise in brand sentiment after the three pop-ups – from people sharing the event on their walls to reposting it to their friends.”

Youthful brand collaborations

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Adidas upped its marketing spend by 31% in 2015 as it narrowly beat analyst expectations in its fourth quarter with sales increasing by 15% to €4.167bn.

Earlier this month, its outgoing CEO Herbert Hainer credited the performance, in part, to its collaboration with rapper Kanye West and the resulting Yeezy shoe line.

Adidas has only produced the Yeezy shoes in limited batches in order to create a spike in demand and word of mouth buzz. And Moore said the collaboration with West, as well as its upcoming tie-up with designer Stella McCartney who will design the sports wear for Team GB, are crucial as Adidas looks to connect with the new generation.

He explained: “When we say that Adidas is a brand for a new generation, Kanye personifies that as he’s the symbol the youth look to and wait for to do something surprising and shocking. Judging by the queues around the block for the Kanye shoes, it’s been very good for us,” added Moore.

“Look, this is a brand that has been around for a long time so we’re looking to reintroduce ourselves to the next generation. If you look at the people we’re currently sponsoring, it all links up to that vision. Dele Alli at Tottenham is the most talked about young footballer in the UK right now and linking up with him shows our intent to do something new.”

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Female athletes from The X. Adidas says the pop-up succeeded in getting more women jogging in the Winter

The rise of the Adidas-patented Boost technology is also helping, he added.

“The Boost technology really is a revolutionary cushioning material. The fact it has been so well received gives our brand a real edge and, due to its success, all I really need to do from a marketing perspective is package it all up,” he said.

Bringing back confidence

Last March, Adidas announced it would focus marketing spend on six global cities and ramp up co-creation efforts in a bid to increase “brand desirability” and quicken sales and profit growth. It said the strategy would help Adidas to create a “new European marketing organisation”.

However, the strategy has had its critics. Tim Crow, CEO of Synergy Sponsorship, questioned: “You have to question the logic behind some of this city-focused stuff as global distribution is one of the biggest reasons Nike outperforms Adidas.”

But Moore insists Adidas is going down the right path and that confidence has returned to the brand.

He hit back: “We’ve been monitoring and measuring the city-based strategy and in terms of brand sentiment and net sales, the results prove our brand is really hot right now. The strategy doesn’t isolate as we’re performing just as well outside London. NMD, for example, is selling out everywhere.”

Moore said Adidas’s move to ramp up co-creation and become more of a content creator is “setting benchmarks.”

He concluded: “Social platforms are crucial to our brand’s future. We are ahead of the game with the set-up here and setting benchmarks. For example, we have news rooms at our head office, where we combine PR with the digital and social media function.

“Influencers will play a big part in making sure the Adidas brand is being seen and heard. We are letting people come in and create their own content through our channels, that’s very much the focus. We no longer want to just show the public what we’re selling, we want to help them to actually shape the brand.”

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  • Benjamin Reed 31 Mar 2016 at 9:13 am

    adidas have struck the right balance of spontaneous and static marketing initiatives. Let’s not forget they are creating flagship stores that are experience-led across all major cities. Can’t wait to see what they do in their new Oxford Street Store.

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