Case study provided by Superbrands.
The sports clothing and footwear market has grown significantly over recent decades, with a marked increase in products being worn beyond the traditional sporting environments. An effect of this increased popularity is that sports companies have become much more aware of the image and perception of their brand and products, as well as their on-field performance.
As one of the biggest sporting occasions in the world, the 2002 World Cup attracted the attention of each of the major global sports brands. However, only Adidas can lay claim to a heritage in the tournament stretching back more than 40 years. In 2002, the event generated such interest that it pushed the growth of the sports industry to new levels.
For Adidas, 2002 also witnessed a fundamental shift from the traditional footwear and apparel structure used by most sporting goods companies to a new, three-way approach which enables Adidas to address the needs of its consumers in a very focused way. The Adidas brand is segmented into three divisions: Adidas Sport Performance (products developed for the sports performance market), Adidas Sport Heritage (Adidas Originals products) and Adidas Sport Style. Both the Sport Performance and the Sport Heritage business already show strong results, and Adidas is hoping for the same success from Adidas Sport Style since its introduction in 2003. Medium to long term, the Adidas Sport Style division should account for as much as 5% of total Adidas brand sales. Sales in the Sport Performance division should represent at least 65-70% of Adidas brand sales while the Sport Heritage division will have a share of 25-30%.
Despite continued competition across all categories, ongoing success in football is down to the company's passion for frequently making and marketing technically superior products. Adidas believes that its leadership in football, combined with its new structure, will result in significant advances in market share across all categories.
Adidas continues to focus on, and believe in, a performance philosophy. In practice, this means supporting the best athletes, teams and competitions across the globe. With this in mind Adidas has cultivated and extended partnerships with the likes of David Beckham (football), Zinedine Zidane (football), Sergio Garcia (golf), Maurice Green (athletics), The New Zealand All Blacks (rugby), Real Madrid (football) and the former World and reigning European football champions -- France. The brand also has a long and rich association with the Olympic movement. It is extremely proud of the fact that it supports 26 of the 28 Olympic disciplines, something no other brand has achieved. Indeed, 2002 has seen the continued development of new technologies that will be used in Athens in 2004.
In the marketing of its products, Adidas has once again led the industry with award winning advertising and public relations campaigns in support of its FIFA World Cup sponsorship and its technology launches for a3 and ClimaCool.
As well as earning Superbrand status again in 2002, Adidas was voted as being a Cool BrandLeader in 2001 by the Superbrands Cool Council the cool factor now being key to brands, particularly those operating in the youth market.
Adi Dassler, a shoemaker from the village of Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, created the very first Adidas sports shoe in 1920. From humble beginnings the Adidas corporation has expanded into a global company synonymous with world sport. Many of the fundamental principles upon which the first shoes were built, remain firmly rooted in the company philosophy of today.
Dassler was an athlete as well as a shoemaker and applied his knowledge and skills to producing products for athletes that helped improve performance at the highest level.
Dassler's efforts in the service of sport earned him more than 700 patents and other industrial property rights, many of them for revolutionary new products.
The company was, and remains today, committed to reacting to athletes requirements and using their experiences to develop ever better performance footwear and clothing.
The phrase listen, test, modify which was first used by Dassler himself, remains the key to the companys research and development operation. Technical innovations over the years include the worlds first football boot with screw-in studs, spiked track and field shoes and the present day development of ClimaCool, a shoe that allows ventilation of the feet. Since Adidas equipped the first athletes at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928, over 800 world records and medals have been won by athletes using Adidas footwear and apparel at Olympic Games and World Championships.
Since the introduction of Dassler's first sports shoe in the 1920s, the Adidas brand has expanded to such an extent that products are now available for almost every sport.
Adidas designs both its apparel and footwear ranges with athletes needs today in mind. Design concepts begin with the athlete and as a result, top competitors past and present, confirm that Adidas equipment always takes into account the latest developments in modern technology. For example, in preparation for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Adidas put its apparel and footwear through eighteen months of athlete and laboratory testing to ensure the best possible performance under extremes of heat and humidity.
Looking forward to the Olympic Games in 2004, Adidas is again involved in a lengthy development process. With Olympic records broken by hundredths of a second, Adidas is determined to develop a new range of clothing and footwear that will give their athletes the necessary edge to challenge the boundaries of sporting achievement.
2002 was a hugely significant year for Adidas. Firstly, the World Cup in Japan and Korea was the stage for Adidas to launch revolutionary clothing, ball and boot technologies that would help their teams and players perform to the very best of their ability. The Predator Mania is a re-engineered football boot that provides more swerve, increased accuracy, greater ball control and improved power transfer that results in greater comfort. It proved to be a big success with consumers and players alike. In the France 98 tournament, 55 players chose to wear the latest Predator football boot. In Japan and Korea that number almost tripled, with 155 players wearing Predator Mania as their boot of choice.
In addition, Adidas revealed the Adidas Fevernova as the official match ball of the FIFA World Cup. Launched as the most accurate and fastest ball Adidas has ever produced, the Fevernova also proved a big hit with consumers as record global sales made it Adidas most successful ball ever. Using a revolutionary syntactic foam layering system, the ball returns energy in equal measures in all parts of the ball, making its flight more accurate and predictable than ever.
Adidas also launched its team clothing range, Dynamic Layering Concept (DLC). It has been developed to provide physiological support to football players from head to toe, with each individual garment scientifically designed to provide the best possible support. DLC is ultra-lightweight and provides moisture management and features graduated muscle compression. Scientific evidence shows that DLC can improve a footballers physiological performance. In the World Cup, nine teams wore DLC clothing including Argentina, France, Germany and Japan.
Sports Performance is the heart of the brand. Formally known as Forever Sport, this division features products developed for the performance sports market but has design appeal, encouraging consumers to wear the products both on and off the court or playing field. 2002 saw the launch of ClimaCool and a3 running shoes. Both were developed within the Adidas innovation team. The aim for ClimaCool was to develop a functional shoe that featured a ventilation system. Tests proved that ClimaCool kept feet 20% cooler and drier than conventional footwear. a3 (pronounced a-cubed) is the culmination of five years development and is the most advanced training shoe technology that Adidas has ever produced. The a3 concept is simple. Whereas most trainers offer just one heel technology, a3 combines three which cushion, guide and drive the foot forward giving runners, as Adidas scientists would say, the perfect footstrike. Both trainers have enjoyed very successful debut years in the marketplace.
The Sports Heritage division contains products that were once functional, now fashionable. In the 1970s and 1980s they were chosen by top athletes around the world as the performance product of choice. The range remains the same but through Adidas Sports Heritage will be re-invented for the fashion arena using the authentic heritage of the Adidas brand in sport performance.
Design and functionality are already strong aspects in the two existing Adidas divisions and will be continued with an even stronger focus in the newly introduced Sport Style division designed by Yohji Yamamoto.
Adidas continues to acknowledge communications pivotal role in the ongoing success of the brand. The brand now has a wholly integrated approach to all its marketing activity. The most significant of Adidas publicity activities is the high profile brand advertising. Recently, a number of key symbols and teams have featured in media campaigns targeted at both the sports and wider youth audiences. Adidas is committed to incorporating new and developing media into the mix, a strategy that has seen everything from utilising the worlds biggest advertising hoarding in Birmingham during the World Cup, to communicating the brands target audience via the internet and email.
Continuing sponsorship and support of some of the worlds top athletes and teams has also helped Adidas successfully position itself as the brand of choice in sport.
Underpinning all of this high level activity, are extensive grassroots sports programmes where Adidas, along with some of the nations best coaches, help athletes of all ages get the most they can from their sport. Recently Adidas took this one stage further with the launch of Adidas Team Football ‹ a schools initiative designed by teachers to help make learning more fun for children. It does this by encouraging and measuring their teamwork and fair play in a new and exciting way through science, literacy, numeracy and citizenship. The scheme is linked to the National Curriculum at Key Stages one and two. With David Beckham as the ambassador and support from the English Schools Football Association, The Schools Consortium and Sportsmatch, the scheme is being taken up by thousands of school children aged eight to ten.
Adidas brand positioning is clear and distinct. Adidas has a genuine and far-reaching respect for sport and this is manifested in the companys devotion to making the best possible performance products for athletes.
The brand mission is quite simply to become the leading sports brand in the world. It aims to do this by becoming the best performing brand in all sporting goods categories. To achieve this, the brand continues to produce the highest quality performance products possible at marketplace prices. Furthermore, products will continue to be designed and developed to enhance the performance of all who participate in sport, irrespective of their age, gender or ability.
Things you didn't know
© 2003 Superbrands Ltd
Adidas are a global brand; a sporting superpower that sell quality products and deal with the biggest stars in sports. It’s not just about products though, they are awesome at social media marketing. We take a look at why this is in our latest case study…
Adidas are a huge company. It’s no surprise that they have several sectors to the business and each requires its own social media presence across the major social networks which of course includes Twitter. In this case study I will be concentrating on the general Adidas channels, not focused on the sector accounts as much.
Below is a screenshot of the @adidas Twitter profile. By verifying their account, their 2.09M followers and many more can easily find their profile. This account mainly retweets the other Adidas brand accounts and brings together the Adidas brand as a whole. The retweets are mostly of videos and images posted by the brand accounts and then promoted on this account.
Some of the tweets I can see are planned for real-time use based around events. One example is the UEFA Champions League Final, during the match the athletes using Adidas equipment were used in images created in case of a key event in the match. For example, Luis Suarez and Alvaro Morata scored in the match and are both athletes who use Adidas equipment and because of this, during the match they tweeted an image of these athletes using the trending hashtag for the match. As a global brand getting involved in an event most of the world was interested in, they got a lot of engagement. This is very good planning and good Twitter marketing!
Again, Adidas have a lot of brand channels dedicated to different sectors of their company.
Their Facebook page shows the same header image branding but a different logo. However, Adidas are so well known as a brand that the logo is similar in design to the Twitter profile picture and it is still recognizable. They have an extremely large fan base on Facebook, again due to their brand name being known worldwide.
One of the ways I think that Adidas kill it on social media is by integrating their other brand channels into their existing channels. The Videos tab on their Facebook page obviously contains the same content from the YouTube channels and as a result, also their other Facebook pages within relevance. I see this as quite similar to sharing a blog post through every member of staff’s social media accounts. Cross promotion.
They do post the video content that they have and the other visual content that they have used on other social channels, this is a good way to get the full use out of any content you have. One way I can see that Adidas gain influence on Facebook is how they like other pages, but more specifically they share the content and get their content shared on these pages. They like pages that are created for the clients they have, the sportsmen and women they work with and their clubs/ national teams or associations. If Adidas release new equipment, these pages could share the content to their audience if they will be using it, this would come as some news for both parties. News for Adidas, they have a new product. News for the athlete, they will be using this new piece of equipment.
Once again, Adidas have used the same branding on the header image and one of the same logos. They have fully connected their social media channels and other brand accounts to this account using the ‘featured channels’ section and the profile information.
The featured video is obviously a recent campaign that the company are running but is relevant for this channel. Each channel uses a more relevant and specific campaign focused featured video, but as the general Adidas account this channel will not be as focused on one area of the company and it’s products. This way it can become the leader of the brand accounts, be more broad in it’s appeal to an audience and then influence it’s audience to look toward the other accounts that the brand has set up.
This account has only 40 videos. BUT… they have added playlists for the videos that come from the other Adidas brand accounts. They have 27 playlists at the moment and this way can collate the content that is relevant to them without being too in favor of one sector of the business. There is not noticeably more content around Football, or clothing or particular sports in the playlists.
If you have a great product, or even better a lot of great products your social media channels can become very visual. Adidas take visual social media such as Instagram seriously and get very serious results because of that. The post below got over 100 thousand likes in less than a day. Why? Their product is awesome. With awesome content they can create social media content around the products and athletes they are associated and in partnership with.
It’s not even all about selling products. The Adidas Instagram is used to generate awareness of the brand and the products. The great visual content on the channel helps drive more enthusiasm and thirst from the user to get Adidas products. Adidas do get a huge amount of engagement, which means the brand has a very high influence. This boosts their Klout score and will make their other social media channels more influential too because as you grow your influence and audience you become more of a trusted source of quality content.
With regards to real time marketing, Instagram is a social channel Adidas use well. For example, in the build up the to FIFA Women’s World Cup in Montreal, Adidas supplied the match balls. They posted a picture of the final match ball with a view of the stadium used for the final match and used the location Montreal so that people in or searching for this location would discover this content. This adds another way of getting their brand seen and engaged with, not just through hashtags and their existing following.
One way that we can see it’s not quite as difficult for other companies than it is for Adidas to start marketing is that they already have excellent, world renowned products. In a sense, nothing they want to sell is a hard sell and they already have the deals in place for huge stars in lots of sports to wear and endorse their products. People lap up sport video, which is another reason why just a video of a contracted athlete wearing their products would go so far for Adidas. One such campaign is the There Will Be Haters (see below) launch with the new Adidas football boots. Launched featuring adverts and videos created with stars like Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and James Rodriquez went viral simply because of the profile of the stars and the products.
That doesn’t mean to say the campaign wasn’t very good, but there was an element of assistance from the pre-existing profiles both Adidas and the players already have.
Aside from that Adidas are looking to inspire and make you want to be like these athletes and then buy the same equipment they use (Adidas products), the content is so good that people will just watch it either way. Do avid football fans want to see Karim Benzema, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale in a new football advert? Yes, I for one do. Even if I just want to see the latest commercial starring the best footballers on the planet, I would still watch this over and over. Why? These athletes are in-demand and that’s why Adidas are working with them in these videos.
People want to hear, see or get close to the athletes and heroes they have. Even if the viewers do not actually want to buy the products, they might share the content and their connections might want to. That’s the value Adidas get from having such a good industry standing and the way they can work with these stars.
What makes Adidas different?
If you know a lot about sport and brands like Adidas, you will know that Nike are perhaps their main competitor. Nike focus on the athletes that are contracted to use their equipment and this separates the 2 brands clearly. Adidas use similar methods to Nike, they share great content based around their brand and industry and because of their brand they get huge responses from it. But what makes Adidas different?
Adidas very much stick to an enforced company culture and set of values which make them different to their competitors. In comparison to Nike, they are not as fierce as a brand. Adidas offer equipment and products for the all round sportsman or woman ranging from beginner level to professional standard use. The way in which Adidas are more of a “good guy” brand is important. Not that Nike are “bad guys” at all, but their premiere athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo can be portrayed in this way at times and this perhaps gets swept into the Nike brand through the content they produce around these stars. As an example, Nike produced a video for the launch of Cristiano Ronaldo’s new football boots, focusing solely on him being a superstar and “out of this world” (see below).
Adidas haven’t quite taken such a stance. They haven’t gone for “best in the world”, but they recognize that their athletes are global stars. This is how I think Adidas are different, they do not commit to statements that are debatable. By this I am referring to calling Cristiano Ronaldo the best in the world at Football, at the time he had won an award to give him such a claim but lets not forget that Lionel Messi is contracted to Adidas. He won the same award the previous 3 years to this, no such claims.
In terms of social media, I think Adidas have worked out a hierarchy for their social media channels. The general Adidas account oversees and collates the content of the other channels as if to promote that content as part of the brand. As we saw with Twitter, the Adidas account shared the content from the other brand channels as well as some of it’s own. I personally feel like doing this elevates the general brand Adidas and then helps the brand draw attention to it’s more specific areas, including the specific sports accounts or the women’s accounts. If you become attracted to the leader account and see that it is sharing the other brand accounts, you might be inclined to pay more attention to that account and the products they are sharing or promote.
Based on this research I think that there are a few lessons we can learn from how Adidas use social media. I think the key ones for us are:
- Having a clear strategy (how Adidas use separate accounts)
- Visual content is awesome
- Real time marketing gets engagement and results
- “Great content” is essential
What do you think? Get in touch with us on social media and share this post with your connections!
My job is a joy every day because of the work I get to do and the people I get to work with and for. I train and advise our clients on their digital strategy, social and content. When I go home from the office I’m a freelance content writer. Get to know me and you’ll certainly hear about my 6-a-side football team, pool playing and all of the sport news.