Adidas has a long history in the sportswear industry and began life in 1920 when Adi Dassler dedicated himself to the production of shoes that were specifically designed for people who wanted to participate in sports. The first factory was opened by him, along with his brother, in 1927, and the company's sports shoes were first worn at an Olympic games in those that were held in 1928 in Amsterdam (Adidas undated). The following year the company produced its first football boots and, in 1936, the athlete Jessie Owens wore Dassler shoes at all the events when he famously won four gold medals and set five world records. In 1948, the brothers separated and Rudi went on to found the Puma brand while Adi established the name 'Adidas' and the famous three striped trade mark. Numerous Olympic games later and following notable successes, for example with 80 per cent of the West German world cup winning team wearing Adidas boots in 1974 (Adidas undated), we can move forward to 2012 and the Olympic Games held in London.
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Adidas were the official sponsors of the British Team at these games, the home nation, and the kit was unveiled in March 2012 at the Tower of London, an event that marked the beginning of an advertising campaign that would run right through the games and which obliged every British athlete to wear not only the Adidas team kit but also its shoes. It is also notable that other individual athletes from around the world were contracted to the wearing of Adidas shoes and, perhaps in an indication of the anticipated success of the Adidas campaign, one major rival and the world's largest sports and leisurewear company, Nike, criticised the fact of athletes being compelled to wear Adidas footwear (Joseph 2012).
The Adidas 2012 Olympic Games Campaign, called 'Take the Stage,' was accompanied by the launching of six replica kits in the UK, which were available from April 2012, and included football, tennis, cycling, basketball, athletics and swimwear. Apart from the obvious association with sports that were to be given far more attention than they normally command, one aim of the campaign was to counter a constant challenge and, indeed, rivalry with Nike, who separately sponsor some of the better known British athletes, for example Mark Cavendish and Mo Farah (Joseph 2012).
Further aims of the campaign were to associate the brand with the anticipated atmosphere and interest that the games would generate in the United Kingdom and, with a worldwide audience, to extend this association across the globe. The objectives were clearly to deepen the image of the brand and to increase sales and thus market share, an area that the company was notably successful in, with the subsequent attributing of a 24 per cent increase in sales in the United Kingdom to the campaign and, in terms of revenue, an increase of £100 million (Marketing Week (2012).
It is a commonly understood phenomenon that if a person becomes successful in their sports and gains publicity as a winner, many people, and particularly younger people, will want to emulate them (Hensher 2012). Thus, there will be a public interest in what they wear, what they do, how they train and the clothes that they wear, particularly when they are competing. Thus, the target audience for this campaign was wide but was particularly focused on an anticipated effect that the Olympics would have on younger people and, if they were children, on the influence that they could bring to bear ontheir parents, so that there would be pressure to buy the 'right' clothing and footwear and thus truly emulate heroes and heroines when following up on a new found desire to participate in sports. This point can be exemplified in a number of areas, for example the athletes who were featured in the campaign were high profile and popular within their own disciplines, for example Jessica Ennis, Andrew Murray and Louis Smith (Hensher 2012). This aspect can be further seen within the 'aiming' of the advertisements, whereby the above sports stars and others were shown in there preparatory phases and the "trials and tribulations" that they had to go through in order to compete and to succeed. The second example, which is an indication of the success of the games and therefore of the Adidas campaign, is in terms of the subsequent uptake of sports by British people, with 44 per cent of local councils reporting an increase in the use of sporting facilities during the games, and with 10 Olympic inspired sports showing increases such as 36 per cent in swimming, 26 per cent in gyms, 17 per cent in beach volleyball and 11 per cent in tennis (Local Government Association 2012).
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A number of promotional tools were used in the Adidas campaign, all centred around the theme of participation. These included:
In its "online hub," the company extols the public to be involved - "Even a hoop hustler can get a million fans" (Rudenko 2012).
Athletes are shown encouraging the general public to get involved in some activities.
Some adverts are shown in the breaks during popular TV talent shows which encourage people to take part in such areas of activity (parading their talents).
Non athletic stars are shown in their field of expertise advertising wider Adidas leisurewear and, again, encouraging the British public to enter competitions, indeed the company offers a prize of photographing David Beckham for some publicity shots as well as other, more musical, and other entertainers.
In sum, the promotional tools spread into many areas and markets where Adidas produces and sells, and all are centred around the theme of involvement but in numerous different, diverse, and interesting ways.
The media that was used in the campaign included:
One minute television commercials, which used Team GB athletes such as those noted above and also including Victoria Pendleton and Tom Daley as well as comedians and musical stars. They were also timed to coincide not only with sports but also with other activities such as games and talent shows (see above).
A video, available online, which is set to a background of a rap singer extolling the virtues of young people doing exercise in various scenarios, for example dancing, jogging, and two brief shots of former stars David Beckham and Daley Thompson, in relaxed poses happily observing the youngsters engaged in their exercises (Rudenko 2012).
Of course, the campaign itself achieved substantial publicity in the mainstream and specialist press, for example there was a high level of publicity surrounding the launch of the kits that the British team would be wearing, featured in mainstream newspapers such as The Telegraph (Kelso 2012).
Adidas also undertook its largest print media campaign for the London Olympics, with a £2.25 million agreement with Metro Newspaper to run cover prints depicting British athletic stars (Sweeney 2012).
Suitability of Promotional Tools and Media used
Advertising and marketing campaigns are always a risk for companies for a number of reasons. These include the extent to which the associations assumed in the minds of consumers will be made, that the objectives of the campaigns are appropriately set against the methods and tools employed and the extent to which the brand will be enhanced, for example whether some unforeseen negative element will despoil rather than enhance the image of the brand. Conversely, it can be argued that not running suitable promotional campaigns carries the risk that the company may fall behind its rivals. However, while there are strong economic arguments that favour advertising, it is not always easy to differentiate between that which may be successful and that which may not (Silats 2004).
Furthermore, it is important to emphasise that the immediate aim of a promotional campaign may not be to increase sales but to strengthen brand awareness and association with aspects of it, a factor that is extremely important in building a brand in the sports and leisure wear markets, where consumers may positively associate the brand with emotive areas - how they feel when they are wearing it and how this aligns them with people that they like and whose careers they follow. Indeed, Peattie et al (1997) contend that the associations that marketing companies and departments can make with competitors and competition is overlooked because "promotion continues to suffer from relative neglect compared to advertising; from a tendency forÂ all promotional tools to be tarred with a rational economic brush." Thus, brand building is seen as a key element and, within this, one building block is by associating 'stars' and competition with the brand in question. Thus, we can suggest that the promotional tools used by Adidas in the campaign in question did attempt to build these specific associations, for example in the use of the idea of competition and participation as being positive, regardless of relative ability, and the association of participation not only with Olympic and sporting stars but also with people who had found success in other active areas of life.
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Thus, planning is a key part of a promotional campaign and this lies in understanding not only what may be interesting to consumers but which groups are likely to be interested (Voluntary Arts Network undated). Thus, if the planning is appropriately undertaken, these groups and these areas of interest will have been identified. If we consider the media campaign undertaken by Adidas, the company rightly predicted that there would be a strong interest in the London Olympics, particularly within the home nation, because research would have shown that home nations normally do particularly well in Olympics historically and that there are strong positive feelings when this occurs. The media campaign was clearly designed to capture these feelings and strong desires to participate and to associate them with the brand, for example by the selection of television advertising slots during active shows or sporting events and the mix of retired (or close to retiring) iconic sports stars with active young people, both Olympians and 'ordinary' citizens. Also in 'capturing the mood' with the cover sheets on newspapers, drawn rather than photographed, to emphasise and depict larger than life people and their achievements.
This was part of a wider campaign by Adidas that is centred around the idea of building 'connections' between the brand and large sections of consumers and thus is about deepening and strengthening the brand (Warc 2013). This can be exemplified by noting that the efforts of the company have continued after the "events led" successes of 2012 (Warc 2013). Indeed, the company continued to build its image as a leading, if not the leading brand in football, with its heavy involvement in Euro 2012 and further commitments for the World Cup in 2014.
Risk was briefly mention (see above) in the report and Adidas clearly took one in terms of gambling on the perceived success of the London Olympics and the extent to which it would be embraced by the British public and a wider global audience. However, the risk was calculated and based in the successful history of nations that have held this event and the amount of interest it generated. It can also be seen in wider contexts inasmuch as the company is competing with its main rival, Nike, in sponsoring major events and in associating the success of them and individually sponsored men and women with the brand. This has undoubtedly been successful in the campaign highlighted and in a wider sense. However, one area of criticism is in the social media arena, whereby attempts by the company to generate interest failed and this, according to Marketing Week (2012), was because "there was very little in the way of interactivity and actual content being produced."