Adidas on the power of using micro-influencers in long-form video

The sports giant’s brand boss says Adidas is giving its Tango Squads influencer communities a life beyond messaging apps through long-form video.

Creating video that is compelling in a six second burst, while also driving long-term engagement is the aim at sportswear giant Adidas.

The brand’s latest video project, a long-form series following the exploits of the newly formed Tango Squad FC, has been designed to grow the popularity of Adidas’s Tango Squads influencer communities, first set up in 2016.

Running between nine and 17 minutes long, each episode of the six-part series charts the development of the Tango Squad FC team, comprised of eight football obsessed micro-influencers from the UK and Europe who are existing members of the Tango Squads community.

During each episode the team, managed by former Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso, train with clubs like AC Milan and players such as Manchester United’s Paul Pogba.

The video series builds on the existing popularity of the Tango Squads, a network of hyper-connected football fans aged between 16 and 19 years living in 15 cities worldwide, who communicate with the brand via messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

The squads are given exclusive access to Adidas football content, new product reveals and opportunities to work with the its sponsored clubs and players, experiences which they then share with their own followers online.

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First aired in October, the Tango Squads FC video content appears to have resonated with the football community through its high energy mix of behind-the-scenes footage showing the team’s journey with slick training ground shots. The longest episode, running at 17-minutes long, generated retention rates of 50% and has garnered over 600,000 views since November.

Florian Alt, vice-president of global brand communications at Adidas Football, puts this success down to the brand’s culture of continuous learning. Speaking at Advertising Week Europe yesterday (21 March), Alt explained how Adidas uses data analysis and continuous optimisation to drive the engagement of its video content.

Rather than working to a specific length each time, for example, he said “constantly reviewing is the magical formula”.

“We started with a magazine show called ‘Game Day Plus’ two years ago. The episodes were up to 20-minutes long and were right back then, but now two years later you’re at the limit of nine to 17 minutes. Things change and evolve,” Alt explained.

“We’ve had six episodes now [of Tango Squad FC]. We reviewed the first five and made some slight tweaks and we saw an uplift in retention rate from the fifth to the sixth episode, because everything keeps evolving and developing quickly.”

He argued that long-form content has a place alongside gifs and six-second snippets, because it has the capacity to build brand love. The key to deciding what length is best for a video relies on thinking about the mode of distribution right at the start.

“We define between what we call ‘lean forwards’ and ‘lean backwards’ content, which is pretty good because it gives us, the creatives and the agencies we work with a very clear understanding,” Alt explains.

“So ‘lean forwards’ is your thumbstopper, it’s the stuff that is three to six seconds and the ‘lean backwards’ content is building brand loyalty, going into a deeper engagement. The word ‘story’ itself is already something that sounds longer than six seconds, so think beforehand what you want to achieve with that piece of content and on what platform. This informs a lot of how you build it, develop it, shoot it, create it and bring it to life.”

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When producing video content for social an important element is understanding how to be culturally relevant, particularly in an environment where consumers can click away in a second.

“How do you make sure that they stick? Bring it across in a way that is interesting and resonates with them, and makes them almost feel part of it,” Alt advised.

“If you give them the tools to direct where the story goes next, or ask them what they are interested in seeing as the next episode, that’s the kind of stuff where you can go really deep with engagement and ultimately drive brand love.”