Adidas goes for meme marketing with ‘thug life’ homage

Adidas has created its own riff on the popular ‘Thug Life’ Vine meme as part of a social-driven campaign that will bring rising Premier League star Dele Alli to the fore of its marketing for the first time.

The sportswear manufacturer is no stranger to dipping into the zeitgeist to try and cut-through to football fans and its latest campaign co-ops one of the most viral memes of the moment to show off its novel laceless Ace PureControl football boots.

“Thug Life” videos, so called because the videos, vines and memes parody moments that take a surprising “thug” turn while set to hip-hop music have emerged as one of the more popular pieces of viral content over the last two years. In its latest ad, which takes on the guise of a video game challenging wannabe football stars to “boss everyone”, Zidane jokingly says “he is the boss” before a young amateur counters with the retort “not anymore”. The whole exchange bares similarities to many of the “Thug Life” vines, causing some fans to rebuke the brand for ‘stealing’ the Vine for its own ends.

However, ads that tap into these cultural moments are a bigger part of Adidas’ marketing modus operandi now and the brand is only doing what many have done for years – albeit in a more prominent way. Adidas has been sharpening a more irreverent tone its ads since early last year when it launched the “There Will Be Haters” campaign with controversial baller Luis Suarez as one its stars.

The latest effort from the brand, which has been masterminded by Iris Worldwide, is also the first to feature Tottenham Hotspur star Dele Alli, who has shot to fame over the last six months following a string of stellar performances in his first season in the Premier League. Alli is up alongside the likes of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, Chelsea’s Oscar and Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez and is set to play a bigger role in Adidas’ push to sure up its share of the football market in Europe this year.

The German company has made wholesale changes to the way it promote football over the last 12 months that has included a complete switch to focus on the sport in cities and most recently the creation of a brand activation role in Western Europe.

The brand has been under pressure to boost stuttering football sales in Western Europe amid pressure from Nike, which continues to make inroads into the region.

Seb Joseph

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