Adidas compares TV to the fax machine, claiming digital is its ‘most relevant channel’

Adidas says it is prioritising digital-only marketing campaigns, with the brand confident its new three-pillar strategy can help it win back lost ground in North America.

Adidas can “absolutely” win back dominance in North America – where it is now behind both Nike and newer entrant Under Armour – according to its global head of digital ecosystem design David Greenfield. And he said prioritising digital is a key focus.

He explained: “Yes, we absolutely can win back dominance from Under Armour in the US but digital will play a big role in us achieving that.

“If we look at our recent marketing activity for the NMD brand it was 100% on social. It wasn’t a 30-second TV spot or some slogan but a digital-only strategy that made us sell out of those shoes in a matter of hours,” he said

“Of course TV still has a place but the fax machine still has a place too and I’m not about to create a fax machine marketing strategy. Digital is the most relevant channel for our audience.”

David Greenfield, global head of digital ecosystem design, Adidas

Creating a ‘value exchange’

In July, the German sports giant announced a ‘revolutionary’ three-pillar strategy as part of its turnaround plans. It pledged to investors that 50% of its sales will be through speed-enabled products by 2020. Adidas defines speed-enabled as a complete “reshaping” of its entire business model, from range planning to product creation, sourcing, supply chain, go-to-market and sales, as it looks to “significantly improve its speed-to-market.”

It also announced it would be collaborating more closely with celebrities, following the PR success of its Kanye West partnership, and will pump the majority of its marketing spend into six cities: New York, Shanghai, Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles and London.

And Greenfield said this strategy will allow Adidas to create more of a value exchange with its customers.

“We want to apply a value exchange model. If you get coffee or your hair cut, you are willing to pay extra for a good service or somewhere you trust, right? That’s because of the experience that’s built around those products.

“That is what Adidas is aiming to do from both its products and digital presence,” he told Marketing Week last week at the Dots 2016 event in Brighton organised by agency Brilliant Noise.

Reluctance to back VR

Today (20 September), UK retailers such as John Lewis have begun stocking Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headsets in the UK. Meanwhile, formats such as 360 video and augmented reality (AR) are becoming more and more popular with marketers.

Greenfield, however, admits Adidas is not yet convinced about their efficacy as marketing channels.

He concluded: “Yes [360 video, AR and VR] are absolutely legitimate channels but the challenge is how to pull off good story telling and move them beyond just visuals.

“We talk to all the tech big players and they tell us they are struggling when it comes to making the storytelling work. The fear is brands will dilute their messaging and be seen as too vanilla if they just rush onto VR.”



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  1. Mark Lugo 31 Jan 2017

    I congratulate David and Adidas for having the BALLS to go 100% digital (REAL DIGITAL) marketing. It’s time for brands/advertisers to realize the true potential of digital marketing that allows for real time engagement with the consumer in more than just one-way communication. TV is so one-way… This could be Adidas way back to the top of the game. Cheers David!

    MARK LUGO ~ Sports Digital Entertainment LTD

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