Leagas to Unveil Adidas Image Work

U.S.-Only Campaign Will Employ Different Tack and Tagline
SAN FRANCISCO-Adidas will unveil a new image campaign in mid-May from Leagas Delaney here with the tagline, “Long live sport.” The push will have a different approach and tagline than Adidas’ global image effort from new shop 180 Communications in Amsterdam.
As an interim measure until Leagas’ work is ready to roll, the Adidas U.S. unit is using one of 180’s global ads-but slapping Leagas’ line on the ad rather than the theme “Forever sport,” developed by 180. The decision is a compromise that has satisfied no one, sources said.
Leagas’ new work will include TV and print ads. The effort represents the first umbrella branding initiative by Adidas in the U.S. since the company relaunched here in 1993. “Up to now, our ads have been sports- and product-specific,” said Karyn Thale, Adidas director of marketing communications. “[Now,] we want to get across a feeling of globalness and a sense of heritage.” Aimed at teens and young adults, the TV and print work will run through the summer. The budget is estimated at $20 million.
The ads show professional and amateur athletes from a wide variety of sports in a “down-to-earth and human way, taking a day-in-the-life look at their lives,” said Thale. She contrasted the new campaign with the anthem ads that glorify athletes and give a brand heroic status. “That is a style that Nike does beautifully. It is not who we are,” she said.
Adidas-Salomon AG is on a roll with American consumers. Despite a shrinking athletic footwear market, it doubled its U.S. market share in 1998 to 12.6 percent. After a downturn, Nike is holding steady at about 30 percent, according to industry reports. Apparel is the fastest-growing segment of Adidas’ business, accounting for about 40 percent of U.S. sales, said company officials.
In previous Adidas campaigns, Leagas has generally taken a less serious, often humorous attitude toward athletes and sports fans. Along with ads poking fun at New York Yankees baseball fans and and Notre Dame University football fans, the reel includes a BMX bike spot in which a champion talks to his spleen floating in a jar. By contrast, the global branding spots by 180 seem to follow a Nike-style anthem strategy, said sources. Headlines in the aspirational ads admonish viewers to, “Take what you want. Take it very seriously.” ƒ