Why Adidas’s 'Change is a Team Sport' campaign is a great follow up to its ‘House Party’ ad a decade earlier

Why Adidas’s 'Change is a Team Sport' campaign is a great follow up to its ‘House Party’ ad a decade earlier

The Background

So the easy and obvious thing to do here is to compare the new work from adidas to Nike’s latest efforts. 

But I imagine you already know all about that and have a point of view. 

Ticks versus stripes, read the book etc. 

And frankly, I don’t have any extra insight to share or light to shed. 

Not a promising start to an article I’d admit but bear with me. 

The Big Idea

The latest adidas campaign - celebrating 50 years of the superstar silhouette - is interesting not because of the sportswear industry showboating, but rather what the work says about marketing and the world we communicate to. 

Cast your mind back to 2008 and the iconic ‘House Party’ made by Sid Lee - part of my personal hall-of-fame. 

The hero piece of ‘content’ was a TV spot. Yup telly. 

A whirlwind tour through a special house party celebrating 60 years of adidas Originals. The party was packed with famous guests having a famously good time.

David Beckham. Check. Missy Elliot. Check Katy Perry. Check. Mark Gonzales. Check Kevin Garnett. Check. Russell Simmons. Check.

All of this is soundtracked by a remix of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' 1968 hit "Beggin”. Give it a re-watch. It’s still just as big. 

To me, it basically said adidas is cooler than just a sportswear brand. 

It means more to wear the three stripes. It is part of wider culture. 

Music, art, performance and of course sport. The trefoil was just as common on the football pitch, terrace and the pub after. Still feels like a pretty modern outlook. 

And so to ‘Change is a team sport’ campaign - made by Johannes Leonardo this time around. It see’s another collection of cool AF people, knocking about together in a globally recognisable scenario with a healthy dollop of Wes Anderson thrown in for good measure. 

What They Did

We follow Jenn Soto’s first day at what seems to be the adidas high-school. 

He meets fellow pupils and teachers on the way to a classical sports team photo. 

All shot nicely, quirky cameos and a plinky-plonky Wes soundtrack. 

Lovely stuff.

What’s interesting is the differences between the two campaigns.

The ‘Change’ campaign feels way more paired back, possibly motivated by marketing, political, media, social trends. The setting, cinematography and soundtrack are polar opposites. Kind of a C4 Skins grit versus an AESOP detailed obsessed, softer, safer world. Times and attitudes have changed, so brands react. 

Sure we still have the more mass appeal ‘names’ like Pharrell Williams, Pogba and Jonah Hill. And the evergreen Mark Gonzales is back. 

But the classmates are makers/creatives, dare I say cooler this time around. Blondey McCoy in ‘Change’ brings a very different vibe, audience and reach to Katy Perry.

The headline is a strong ‘Change is a team sport’. 

Not too preachy or unachievable. Not just for the elite or the people in charge. For everyone to get behind. 

More lovely stuff. But not one that should be owned by a brand, but that rant is for another day. 

The Review

The film is especially notable for more than the way it looks and sounds or by the superstar cast, it also has Jonah Hill’s lovely and punchy monologue. 

A brand manifesto, a call to arms for a world that is more fractured than ever. 

Championing the need for change and for adidas at least, the team will make it happen rather than Nike’s preferred route of celebrating individuals (we got there in the end).

So what does this all say about adidas, marketing, creativity? 

Brands looking for deeper engagement with fans (customers) via cultural touchpoints is the norm now. 

The sportswear sector is no different and leads the way in a lot of the work they produce. 

We should all aim to make work that is authentic to the brand and that entertains the audience in equal measures.

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