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With much fanfare, the marketing clerks at Adidas announced they are no longer going to advertise on TV, as their target market is young and allegedly doesn’t watch TV. Their Aussie brethren repeated that announcement again this week.

It seems Adidas will only use digital channels for marketing to these young folk – completely missing the larger audience of active sportspeople still playing football, netball, jogging and much more, well into their 50’s. These people also have more money than younger people and will spend it on all sorts of branded goods.

they’ll spend money on anything…

I declare a hand here. I was once paid a few shekels to play football and eventually played for 40 years, so have bought a shed-load of boots, running shoes and clothing. I am a qualified football coach and assistant rugby referee. I coached juniors until two years ago, advising parents on what boots to buy.

I attend my kid’s rugby, basketball and hockey games, participating in team management. So in summary, I am a parent of, and involved with, the young sportspeople Adidas want to reach – not to mention a lifetime sports gear customer and person who showered regularly in male sporting sheds. Though that’s not a vision you need right now.

I’ve also worked on creating ads for sports drinks and sporting goods retailers, so may have some semblance of an idea about the market. Hence my humble opinion via the following points:

Point 1:
Young folk do watch large screen TV, often with an iThingo in hand. They love to watch sport on TV, as well as on smaller devices. So they do see TV advertising.

Point 2:
The lads play FIFA on PS4 which is where they see some of the coloured footwear of different players. This may have some influence on their choices. They also attend professional sport as fans, so they see what their heroes are wearing. Interestingly, sport brands rarely have pop-up stores selling stuff at these matches – where are the brand activation folk?

Generally though, their footwear decision is influenced by the following three things:

  • What their mates are wearing – if someone turns up to pre-season training wearing the latest lime-green boots, then that’s what they all wear.
  • The expert in the shoe store – Foot Locker or Athlete’s Foot – who advise on the best boots/joggers for their feet/sport.
  • The cost of the damn shoes – governed by my (or their) wallet.

The delusion that the only way to reach young sportspeople is via digital channels, is farcical. One has to wonder, what’s in the sports kool-aid at Adidas?

My kids (and I) have worn Adidas, Nike, Tiger, Puma and Asics. They are not loyal to any single brand. I was never brand loyal either, though admittedly I did prefer the Adidas Predator boot in my twilight years.

Craig Johnston, Aussie inventor of The Predator and proud mullet wearer…

More importantly…

Point 3:
This younger generation is responsible for the single biggest consumer protest in history. Around 700 million of them have downloaded ad blocking software to their digital devices, specifially so they don’t get any (Adidas) advertising. So am not sure who the marketers at Adidas believe will see their digital ads?

Stop that digital advertising…

Obviously, to overcome the issue of digital advertising not working, Adidas will create content and brand experiences for their customers. But they will need to spend money to promote the promotion, so to speak. They cannot rely on social media or WOM.

I suspect Adidas will awaken from its folly in good time. Maybe they should speak with P&G to learn how they lost $Billions in sales, when they moved away from TV advertising to Facebook advertising? P&G returned to TV BTW.

I’m banking on Adidas moving to a “footpath graffiti” strategy. They’ll hire street artists to paint the footpaths of the cities with Adidas branding – digitally activated of course. This will allow them to capture the attention of all those young people walking around staring at their feet and the ground, while on their mobile phones.

When said punter steps on an Adidas brand image, a RFID message will be activated on their mobile, instantly offering branded content -not selling anything, because as we all know, selling in the digital world is evil. This will make the punter’s life more fabulous, so they will fall in love with the Adidas brand. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Gotta run – where are my Dunlop Volleys…

connect to me on the run: https://www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld/