Adidas set for experiential drive to be a ‘true experience maker’

Adidas is to spend more on experiential marketing to create product experiences that will bolster wider campaigns rather than exist as siloed events.

The sportswear business will invest more on immersive experiences even though the return on investment measures are murky. While events are expensive and have a short half-life, Adidas is using social and mobile media to measure experiential marketing more effectively through social currency and buzz metrics.

The shift is brought into sharp focus through Adidas’ nationwide campaign to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its iconic ‘Predator’ boot, which has been worn by players including Steven Gerrard and Zinedine Zidane. Despite its ties to icons of the game, Adidas admits the boot is not as revered among younger fans and is using experiential to develop loyalty toward it.

A takeover of Hackney Marshes, known as a host to tens of amateur football games every weekend, in London later this month illustrates the shift. Posts from those that use the facilities alongside related content from ambassadors and influencers will be coordinated to extend the stunt to those unable to experience it physically. The business has balanced paid, owned and earned media around previous stunts but says there is now more of an onus on giving fans ‘never-before-seen’ experiences that are product-driven.

Earlier this month, Adidas gave fans the opportunity to test their football skills in a bespoke, life-size video game arena in London where they were stalked by a team of hunters armed with ‘Laser Quest’-style guns (see video above). Only about 500 fans got to experience the event over five days but Adidas leveraged branded and user-generated content to showcase the different versions that could have been experienced to those unable to attend in person.

A spokesman for the company said it is too soon to commit to running a larger version of the game. However, the “verbal and social takeout” the event generated proves there is a place for experiential so long as “you don’t lose track of your key communication point”.

“Throughout the campaign we will have methods in place to measure the impact on sales, reach and positive social sentiment. It is of course crucial that we remain razor focused on the consumer, and ensure that the product remains at the heart of the campaign”, he adds.

“When you do something new, that has never been seen before it is easy to digress away from your focus point and be side-tracked with new techniques or devises, From the Predator Bus wraps driving around London, 5-a-side takeovers and Underground domination, through to the game itself, it is essential to have filters in place that continually bring you back to product.”

The experiential drive is part of planned global push that will see it pass £2bn in marketing spend this year as it looks to grow sales in Europe and Northern America.