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Adidas: they did it their way

Posted by Stephanie Gilchrist - Marketing Manager at PHMG on

 The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity celebrates the most imaginative, innovative and exciting campaigns in the advertising industries – with some of the world’s biggest names receiving the highly-coveted awards each year. At this June’s festival, there was one standout winner in the ‘Entertainment for Music’ category – Adidas’ ‘Original is Never Finished’ campaign. Join us as we explore how the sports giant used music in the most engaging way to make an award-winning impact. 

For Adidas, the word ‘original’ forms the very essence of the brand. It makes up the name of the heritage clothing line ‘Adidas Originals’, and signifies the sportswear company’s desire to continually break the mould with inventive products and advertising campaigns. Most of us define the word original as meaning the first to achieve or discover something – but Adidas set out to prove that originality isn’t as clear-cut as this, and can be attained through reinvention. This year’s relaunch of one of Adidas’ most popular shoes, the EQT, exemplifies the notion of originality being born from what’s come before, as the existing 1980s trainer has been given a revamp nearly 30 years later. And it was this shoe that inspired the campaign that got everyone talking.

‘Original is Never Finished’ was built around one track: My Way. Made famous by legendary crooner Frank Sinatra, it’s one of the most covered songs in musical history, having been tackled by a range of artists from Elvis Presley to Jay-Z and Sex Pistols. But Adidas used the ‘unoriginal’ nature of the track to its advantage, reworking and remixing every performance to create a brand new track. Frank Sinatra’s original vocals are mixed with established and up-and-coming artists from around the world, including Snoop Dog, Stormzy and Mabel – and the reinvention continues to the visual side of the campaign. Every scene displays an ode to the past – artist Petra Collins turns Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ into a digital wasteland, and Snoop Dogg’s classic ‘Doggystyle’ album cover comes to life in a video that’s packed full of originality, despite being made up of nothing original.

Prior to the release of the video, the brand teased its arrival – and took to Twitter to announce that there was “much more to come on music’s biggest day.” After such enticing tweets, it was only fitting that the imaginative campaign was launched in the ad breaks of The Grammys – a glittering ceremony that recognises outstanding achievements in the music industry. And to really ensure the message made an impact, Adidas also released three other music videos online – each remixed from the first so that they were new once again. These further releases took the campaign to a multi-platform level, allowing them to take over the big screen and the small, filling social media with their new take on originality. The artists involved used their own Instagram and Snapchat accounts to spread the message – generating more than 500 pieces of original digital content.

Adidas were the most talked about brand during Grammys weekend, and still continue to receive thousands of hits on these videos every single day. The campaign has reached more than 149 countries across the world, and has led to a 45% increase in global sales for Adidas lifestyle – overtaking their close sports brand rivals, Nike. These undeniable statistics prove that success is not limited to dictionary definitions of originality. Adidas perfectly balanced the consistency of their brand with a new take on creativity – and achieved incredible results.

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