Discover the strategy that design agency Fitch used to mastermind Adidas’s biggest ever marketing campaign for the World Cup.  

World Cup sponsorship is one of the most high-profile areas of marketing it is possible to tackle.

Sports brand and retailer Adidas worked with design agency Fitch to create its World Cup campaign. Retail Week spoke to Tom Ramsden, brand marketing director at Adidas, and Alasdair Lennox, creative director at Fitch, about how they approached it.

While most companies used festival-themed, brightly coloured marketing in their World Cup campaigns, Adidas went against the grain with a black-and-white palette.

Phil Heys, design director at Fitch, directed the project. He says: “On picking up the brief from Adidas we were told that this would be the biggest thing we’d done in our collective careers.”

What was the brief?

Tom Ramsden: The 2014 FIFA World Cup was the world’s largest sporting event and the ultimate platform for us as a brand to showcase everything that Adidas has to offer.

The brief was therefore to create an integrated marketing campaign that would enable us to be the most talked -about brand at the tournament as well as helping us grow the Adidas family.

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What was the campaign’s aim?

Tom Ramsden: Whether it was our products, teams or players, we wanted to be at the centre of the conversation.

We wanted to capture the imagination of football fans around the world and underline our position as the world’s leading football brand. At the end of the day, and if we managed to achieve these goals, we would grow the brand and achieve an increase in sales.

What elements and channels were used?

Alasdair Lennox: The campaign was fully integrated across all marketing disciplines which included advertising, PR, social, retail and ecommerce.

All of these disciplines were geared towards a real-time communications campaign with a reactive media hub created on the ground in Brazil.

What was the message of the campaign?

Tom Ramsden: The key message was ‘all in or nothing’ and it was the largest ever marketing campaign by Adidas in its history.

However, we wanted the messaging to go far beyond marketing and even the World Cup. We wanted something that summarises our approach in everything we do – from our products and players to how we behave when it comes to our customers and fans.

What was the content and how did it communicate the message?

Tom Ramsden: The ‘all in or nothing’ mindset was represented by all of our content on and off the pitch. On the pitch we had the black-and-white colourways of the official World Cup boots, while off the pitch we focused on our imagery and video content across social media and in-store.

What components are needed in a campaign of this size?

Alasdair Lennox: Fitch worked closely with Adidas and advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day around the concept, creation and art direction of both player and product shoots. This led to the production of a graphic package, including artwork assets and a style guide.

This package was then distributed to all affiliate agencies to create content for their channels. Fitch was also instrumental in the delivery of a full retail experience to multiple markets in conjunction with Intermarketing Agency.

How challenging is it to work on a campaign of this scale?

Tom Ramsden: The biggest challenge is that there will always be unknowns, especially with a tournament like the World Cup. However, while we can’t 100% guarantee that moments will or will not happen, we have a good idea they will.

We conducted extensive scenario-planning around a huge range of potential events and this is why we had such a huge bank of content prepared for us to use throughout the tournament. This put us in a strong position for those unique moments when we could react accordingly.

How did the campaign work in-store?

Alasdair Lennox: The Adidas Battle Pack pop-up in Harrods, for example, told a unique story from the brand’s own perspective.

Showcasing a footwear collection created for the world’s elite footballers, the Battle Pack pop-up was designed to present adidas as the most provocative brand at the World Cup in Brazil.

The global store element was a success and helped Adidas to achieve 8 million sales of replica national team strips and 14 million Brazuca balls.

Was the campaign a success and can you share anything in terms of success measurement, whether it’s reach or brand engagement or sales uplift?

Tom Ramsden: This World Cup has been an outstanding success for us and cemented our position as the world’s leading football brand.

On the pitch we had the two finalists, the winning team and all three Adidas golden award winners, while off the pitch we achieved the goal of being the most talked about brand in social media.

There were more than 1.5 million conversations across our social media platforms which resulted in a 5.8 million increase in followers and the fastest-growing football community in social media. We were also the most-viewed sports brand on YouTube during the tournament.

The results justified our view that real-time communication was the best way for Adidas to win the World Cup.