Cannes Lions Adidas Carla Buzasi

How Adidas is using colour to drive product purchase


By Natalie Mortimer | N/A

June 21, 2015 | 3 min read

While Adidas may have a formidable marketing machine churning out communications to trigger sales, the sports giant has another trick up its sleeve to tempt customers – colour.

The brand has shifted its strategy of primarily using black and white, and has begun to implement a new colour each season to tap into the emotion of its consumers, following the insight that 85 per cent of people buy a product because of its colour.

Speaking in conversation with WGSN editor Carla Busazi, Adidas senior director Kathryn O’Brien said the brand’s colour strategy was in part sparked by the sentiment that Adidas was “becoming known as a black and white brand”.

“We wanted to dig into this whole idea that colour is an emotion,” she explained. “We wanted to get a strategy behind that. I think if you do want to dig into colour you can’t just throw colour at a product; you have to [ask] what are we standing for? What are the emotions we want to express with colour.”

Given that sport lends itself particularly well to an emotional connection, coupled with Adidas’ broad range of products, the brand decided “to stem from emotion and represent that with colour”.

Most recently Adidas has been working with the colour purple and despite its intrinsic ties with characters such as Willy Wonka O’Brien said she was excited about the prospect of “taking it out of context” and introducing it across Adidas’ product range.

“I almost got thrown out of the window,” admitted O’Brien, referring to colour meeting when she suggested using purple. “It takes a lot of trust to dig in to the emotions of what you as a brand do”.

Also speaking on stage was Detlev Pross, managing director of CNCS Color, a Chinese company specialising in colour, who said that it is important to get colour right for a brand’s bottom line. He added that he “is convinced” the reason Apple is such a successful brand is because the tech giant used a process called limbic segmentation – a study into the brain of the consumers that is able to pin point which part of the brain is stimulated by certain colours.

Pross also waded into The Dress debate; the phenomenon that swept social media earlier this year when a Tumblr user posted an image of a dress and asked viewers to identify the colour. He said the reason that people saw different colours stems from how the human brain processes it. The brain's perception can be thrown by the colours of nearby objects, and their reflected light falling on the object in focus, which in this was the dress.

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Cannes Lions Adidas Carla Buzasi

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