BUILDING A BRAND: THE ADIDAS STORY PART 2

Stealth
BUILDING A BRAND: THE ADIDAS STORY PART 2
Our job at STEALTH is to help businesses build their brand, through a range of marketing strategies that all tie together. No matter how complex the strategy, or how small or large the company we work with, the end goal is generally the same – increase the company’s client base. So as a business owner, you might be tempted to think that feedback from the public (ie. every customer, potential or existing) is an important, if not the most important, part of a marketing strategy. But is the customer always right?  

Adidas & the Viral Video: A Story of Success?

You’ve no doubt heard about the student who created an ad spot for clothing and sportswear giant, Adidas. (Check out Part 1 in our Blog). The video is really worth a watch. It’s heartwarming. It tells a universally touching tale. It makes you want to cheer, and maybe cry, in the end. It has all the hallmarks of a winning ad for a multinational corporation – memorable, cross-cultural, relatable. Great production value. A cast of characters you can connect with.  It’s a mini movie, set to touching music, with the Adidas brand clearly emblazoned on the final shot. And for reasons covered in our last blog, it was refused by Adidas, and remains unclaimed by the company. This despite the collective hand wringing and indignant blasts from the public that they are foolish, blind and downright criminal for allowing this videographer to go un-laureled by no less than their CEO. Do you think Adidas is wrong? Here’s why you shouldn’t.  

The Sanctity of the Brand

A quick visit to the Adidas YouTube , and you will easily identify what the market is: young men and women who admire athleticism and aspire to sculpt their bodies after the sports gods and goddesses they admire. The video doesn’t even get close to touching this story. It’s wandering out in the heart-wrenching woods of aging, fond and fading memories, and creeping obsolescence. Grim stuff. A good marketing company could give you 50 different reasons why they wouldn’t accept the video as part of their brand. It doesn’t hit the right market. They turned their backs on it because it appeals to popularity, rather than remaining true to their core message.  

The Man, the Boy and the Donkey: Or How Being Everything to Everyone is Impossible

Heard the story of the farmer and his donkey, have you? The farmer that strives and fails to please everyone? Your brand is at risk of the same demise if you believe that cries from the public to change your course of action should be heeded. You cannot be everything to everyone, even when everyone believes you should. Sure, Adidas could have jumped on the bandwagon, done a complete 180 on their company’s image and embraced this viral video. Would it have gained them more clients? No chance. Their client base does not connect with this story. Their client base wants to see athletes striving to do the impossible. They want to see mountains climbed, limits pushed, hard fought goals reached. The clients that buy Adidas might be touched by the story, but it won’t make them go out and buy the product, because it doesn’t connect with their aspirations.

Don’t Undermine Your Story

It can happen quite easily, and does. Companies lose their way by trying to answer the public at every turn. By trying to target every demographic rather than the one demographic they really need, companies see opportunities slip through their fingers. A good marketing company will keep you from committing brand suicide by ensuring your copy, your image and your materials all stay on message, arrowing into the heart of your key demographic. To truly be effective, you need to narrow down your 18 to 65, male and female, animal, mineral, vegetable aspirations to a single individual – your current satisfied customer. A happy customer will be your brand ambassador as long as you show that you are committed to them, and not jumping to obey the whims of the internet arm chair critic. Find your ideal client, build a story around them, and others like them will follow – and buy what you’re selling. Focus, refine, hone and stick with your message. Just like Adidas did.  

Bonus! The Cynic Speaks: Heartwarming Story or Marketing Tactic?

I noted a few comments proposing an interesting theory: was the viral video actually deliberately done as part of an official Adidas strategy? Rather gutsy if Adidas was the company behind strategizing, procuring and concocting the plan to force a video to go viral. I have my doubts, though, that a marketing team could land on just the right mix of believability, sympathetic protagonist, and heartwarming story to create such a media storm, or that they would risk putting out such an off-brand message. If it was, though, their gamble paid off. Big time.   What do you think? Tell us in the comments!