News
Marketing can change the world

Adidas turns to influencers to power new-look running marketing

Adidas is turning to influencers to harness the social elements of running in the hope of becoming more relevant and authentic in the competitive category.

The sports business thinks the key to success is to complement the technical credentials of its Boost running shoe with marketing that reflects the way real people run in cities worldwide. While other well-respected (but smaller) running brands like Asics have adhered to a similar strategy for years, Adidas’ upcoming efforts will call on its marketing might to leverage the fanbases of popular popular bloggers and running experts.

Rachel Apollonio from Rio de Janeiro, London’s Sophie Christabel, Lindsey Calla from New York, Julia Korzh from Moscow and Tomomi Yuda from Tokyo will work with the brand over the coming months to define its “This is Energy Running” campaign.

“Energy Running is more than lacing up and logging miles,” said the company’s general manager running Adrian Leek. “It’s a sport-driven social movement” that the business is bringing to life in a new ad featuring its latest influencers. The runners are shown running 'their way'; whether it’s racing each other on parrallel bridges in London to seeing how long they can outrun a train, the influencers are meant to encapsulate how people are now running while also appealing more to women.

“The female athletes we focus on are inspired by socially relevant peers they can easily relate to and aspire to be like which is why influencers will play such a significant role in our marketing campaigns moving forward,” said Leek. “We’ll rely on influencers in seasons to come for input on our product creation and support of our campaign execution as the voices our fans value most.”

Campaign content spans YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter including personalised edits of the film that reflect each individual athlete and influencer. The brand will host a series of Energy Running events in key cities including Shanghai, Moscow, New York City, London, Berlin and Rio de Janeiro to provide runners with a chance to participate and experience its more socially-charged interpretation of running. Despite being heavily geared around influencers, Adidas has no plans to boot its elite athletes from its ads.

This is the Adidas running range’s phase of the wider company focus on six cities, which is already being activated to promote its football products. For Adidas, the locations have been picked because they are likely to spark a halo effect, allowing it to concentrate its marketing on a specific area safe in the knowledge that a notable part of that activity will ripple across to other areas.

Adidas’ long held but not publicised belief is that the running category could eventually eclipse its football business as its dominant sales spinner. It may be far off but the business believes the shifting consumption habits and leanings toward healthier lifestyles across many cities worldwide will likely see more people take up running to stay fit. And the paradigm shift appears to already be having on impact on running sales, which Adidas reported jumped 7 per cent in the first half of 2015 and is on track to shift 11 million pairs of Boost running shoes by the end of the year.

Running forms the cornerstone of an overhaul of the business after it was forced to write off plans to hit €17bn in global sales by the end of the year. All marketing changes flow from a more streamlined product range that is being slashed by 25 per cent over the next 12 weeks, freeing up more budget to be pumped back into its core brands and categories.

Seb Joseph

Hi, I'm the news editor at The Drum. Give me a shout if you have any questions about our news coverage or would like to pitch in a story.

All by Seb