Furthering its goal to become ‘the most personal brand’, Adidas has launched three new initiatives trading on a sense of intimacy and insight in and beyond sport, to seduce consumers and potential employees alike.
Succeeding its blog (debuted in 2011), the brand has launched a new digital magazine – Gameplan-a.com – focused on the nexus of sport, lifestyle and business. Playing on the lexicon of start-up culture to create a spirited presence, the site is aimed at 'creators and entrepreneurial minds with an athlete's heart'. It covers topics such as boosting productivity and harnessing failure for success in business, as well as personal stories such as ‘how being a Mom helps me stay fit’.
The content is produced by Adidas’s communications teams, human resources department and ‘newsroom’ editors – content-producing teams first established for the 2012 Olympics – to fuel both its website publishing and e-commerce initiatives. Relevant content from other websites is also aggregated on the hub, while followers can contribute, too – all-comers are invited to pitch ideas via a dedicated tab.
The content is additionally shared on LinkedIn (some articles feature a call-to-action area, prompting readers to apply for jobs at Adidas), as well as on Twitter and the brand’s intranet A-live.com for direct employee viewing.
Avenue A is a quarterly women-only subscription box service conceived in the name of convenience, delivering exclusive consignments of premium running and training products. Subscribers “would rather actually be working out than going to shop for their workout gear” says Chris Brewer, Adidas’s category director for running. A different female athlete curates each shipment, with recent custodians including NY-based fitness coach and choreographer Nicole Winhoffer and US soccer star Morgan Brian.
After submitting sizing details online, consumers receive a surprise selection of three to five items – footwear, apparel and accessories – in March, June, September and December. All products are part of a limited edition series to warrant the price tag of $150 per box.
Currently only available in the US, the initiative originated from an internal call for ideas to boost business, and was selected from almost 450 suggestions. See also Subscription Shopping Boom, Rent the Runway’s Subscription Mode and Membership & Tiered Retailing.
Tapping directly into the growing web traffic of the so-called ‘dark social’ – all internet-based communications that aren’t publicly accessible, such as email or instant messaging – Adidas has created a set of hyper-local, private WhatsApp and Facebook communities centred on key global cities.
Dedicated ‘squads’ will go live in Berlin, London, Paris, Milan, New York and Stockholm in July 2016, after trials at the Copa America (South American Football Championship) in New York, and the Euro 2016 soccer championships in Paris, both in June.
The initial set of members must be invited by Adidas (making it likely to be influencer-bloggers), and they are incentivised to join with the promise of receiving news before anyone else, along with exclusive invites to events. They will also be offered one-off opportunities for direct contact with Adidas ‘ambassadors’ including Danish tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki, Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi, US supermodel Karlie Kloss and rapper Kanye West.
Adidas first recruited people for its ‘dark social’ squads during the UEFA Champions League finals in Berlin in 2015, when it used Twitter’s deep message feature (personal messaging) to invite a group of advocates to a private conversation with French Real Madrid soccer player, Karim Benzema.
Based on the premise that sharing or recommending a product or campaign shows clear intent to purchase, Adidas aims to use key insights from these conversations to recalibrate future brand experiences – from its native newsroom content, to creating marketing material more likely to be shared.