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Brief Published: 24 Aug 2015

Adidas Get Real, Ditch Messi

Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi represents the pinnacle of football fame – but in an age of increasing dissatisfaction with marketing messages that push an unattainable ideal of perfection, German sportswear brand Adidas is shifting its focus to real people. Its new Unfollow campaign encourages young athletes to forget about emulating Messi and find their own inner strength.

Lia Stierwalt, senior director of global communications and media for Adidas, told US advertising magazine AdWeek: "We live in a world where typically athletes are told to follow or emulate their heroes. We want to inspire creators to defy the norm of sports today, so they can focus on shaping their own reality and ultimately create their own game."

The campaign, created by US ad agency 72andSunny, uses images, videos and memes of Messi collected from across social media, cannily tapping into the Born on the Web mindset of its target audience.

We’re increasingly seeing a shift away from glossy aspirational branding towards communications that more realistically reflect the reality of being human in the 21st century. This is a subject we’ll explore in full in our upcoming Macro Trend, Get Real. For more on this theme, see our D&D Awards 2015: Trends and Insights.