Adidas Knocks Under Armour Again With This Inspirational ‘One in a Billion’ Ad for China

And David Beckham pops in to say hi

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Some in the Western world retain unfortunate stereotypes about China as a society that places little value on individuality, valuing loyalty to the state above all other things. 

Advertisers, in turn, have often approached the world's second largest economy with caution. For example, a 2008 Olympic-themed effort from Adidas illustrated Chinese consumers' sense of national pride in their team as the German sports apparel brand aimed to shore up a larger share of what remains a rapidly growing market. 

Yet young Chinese athletes are most definitely interested in expressing their own personalities, and Adidas' latest attempt to reach them appeals directly to that desire. It also pushes back against the Cold War-era man-or-machine narrative while simultaneously mocking one of the brand's chief rivals in the region.

Check out the new spot here: 

Under Armour fans will notice that the first scene in "One in a Billion" directly references UA's "Rule Yourself." In that Droga5 campaign from 2015, thousands of clones of Tom Brady, Misty Copeland, Steph Curry and others demonstrated the hard and often mindless work that goes into being a world-class athlete—doing the same thing over and over again in the endless pursuit of perfection. (This isn't the first time Adidas has taken a shot at UA's repetitive-training mind-set.) 

This first Chinese campaign from Adidas' new global lead creative agency, 72andSunny, goes a bit further in reminding viewers that every form of athleticism can double as an expression of one's individual style. These would-be stars aren't limited by sport, gender or even nationality. (Note the hard-to-miss cameo here by one David Beckham.) 

There's still plenty of homeland pride to be found in a spot that also features appearances by Olympic volleyball player Hui Ruo Qui and swimmer Ning Ze Tao. But the big message here is that Adidas can help young competitors be inviduals, too. 

So, why target Under Armour? That company's recently announced plans to capture a bigger portion of the Chinese market, currently dominated by Nike (and Adidas), might just have something to do with it.


Client: Adidas

VP, Global Brand Communications: Ryan Morlan

Senior Director, Global Brand Communications and Media: Lia Stierwalt ​

Director, Global Brand Communications: Jenny Chen

Senior Manager, Creative Production & Shoot: Eleanor Fitzgerald

VP, Brand Director Sports Performance – adidas China: Marc Leroux

VP, Brand Activation – adidas China: Philip Ho

Senior Director, Brand Communications – adidas China: Josephine Tsai

Director Brand Communications – adidas China: Lorna Luo

Manager Brand Communication Training – adidas China: Amy Fan

Featured in the Campaign

China National Volleyball Team Player: Hui Ruo Qui

China Olympic Swimmer: Ning Ze Tao

Former European Football Player: David Beckham

Agency: 72andSunny Los Angeles​ and 72andSunny New York

Chief Creative Officer, Co-Founder: Glenn Cole

Group Creative Director: Frank Hahn

Creative Director: Wei Wei Dong

Creative Director: Matthew Carey

Creative Technologist: Tim Grover

Writer: Ben Wiley

Designer: Brandon Mai

Chief Production Officer: Tom Dunlap

Executive Producer: Kerli Teo

Producer: Jenny Jones

Group Brand Director: James Stephens

Brand Director: Ryan Warner

Brand Manager: Brian Kim

Brand Coordinator: Brittany Allen

Group Strategy Director: Sudeep Gohil

Strategy Director: Ginger Xiang

Senior Strategist: Marc Pardy

Partnerships & Legal Director: Christina Rust

Partnerships & Legal Manager: Kelly Ventrelli

Junior Partnerships & Legal Manager: Noah Winter



Director: Max Malkin

Co-Founder / Executive Producer: Kerstin Emhoff

Vice President / Executive Producer: Ali Brown

Director of Production: Tracy Hauser

Producer: Matt Wersinger


Lost Planet NY

Editor: Bruce Herrman

Executive Producer: Krystn Wagenberg

Producer: Paolo Solarte

Sound Design:

Barking Owl

Sound Designer: Michael Anastasi

Executive Producer/ CD: Kelly Bayett

Producer: Ashley Benton


The Mill NY

Executive Producer: Melanie Wickham

Senior Producer: Eliana Carranza-Pitcher

Production Coordinator: Ashley Goodwin

Shoot Supervisor: Eliza Randall

2D Lead Artist: Ilia Mokhtareizadeh

2D Artists: Vi Nguyen, Andre Vidal, Mikey Smith, Kyle Zemborain

Motion Graphics: Laura Nash, Chris Mennuto


The Mill NY

Colorist: Mikey Rossiter

Color Assist: Nate Seymour and Elias Nousiopoulos

Executive Producer: Dee Allen

Color Producer: Natalie Westerfield

Color Coordinator: Evan Bauer


Heard City

Audio Mixer – Eric Warzecha

Audio Producer – Andi Lewis

Audio EP – Sasha Awn


Apparat "Ash/Black Veil"

Music Supervision: Daniel Cross

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@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.