adidas brings it on for cricketers with its new campaign

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 09, 2011
The new 'Bring It On' campaign celebrates athletes and their indomitable spirit; the brand has increased its ad and marketing spends by 30-35 per cent.

adidas, a brand that has used cricket in its communication since 1998, has rolled out a new ad campaign - and with it, a fresh tagline. While it generated buzz with its 'Pure Cricket' campaign last year, this year, the brand has put together communication that conveys the message 'Bring It On', through cricketers from across the globe. The players in the campaign are Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Mallinga, and Dwayne Bravo.

The 'Pure Cricket' campaign broken last year, focussed on the attitude, grit, irreverence and passion of cricketers, and the intensity they bring to their game. It featured upcoming cricket stars such as Sandeep Sharma, Gaurav Jathar and Sahil Kukreja, and how they overcome day-to-day obstacles while on the job. The current 'Bring It On' campaign carries forward the same thought, albeit with established cricketers.

Tushar Goculdas, director, marketing and sales, adidas India, tells afaqs! that the brand has increased its ad and marketing spends by 30-35 per cent, this time. Adding more clarity on the brand's overall stand, he says, "While the brand's attitude still remains 'Impossible is Nothing, 'Bring It On' is the campaign thought."

The current campaign retains the brand's core target group, that is, youngsters in the age group of 14-19 years. However, this time, it encourages the next generation to 'Bring It On'. The campaign seeks to inspire athletes and remind them of the significance of hard work, focus and self-confidence required in sports. The communication attempts to present doubts, insecurities and fear that cloud the minds of even the greatest athletes, and how they overcome these by honing their abilities.

The creative credit for the campaign goes to TBWA India, and the media AoR (agency of record) is Carat.

A two-minute film, featuring all five cricketers has been broken on the brand's Facebook page,, and will be aired on television, shortly. Besides this, there are four other TVCs, one of which has been released on television. The film features Tendulkar, who is seen sweating it out in different ways. Uzer Khan has directed the films.

Of Insights and Inspiration

The campaign rides on the insight that wearing one's country crest while on the field is a dream, but has its share of challenges, particularly, the competing teams that pry into one another's weaknesses, the expectations of critics and fans, physical injuries, and the dreaded reality of 'loss of form'. 'Bring It On' tries to capture the essence of this struggle, and tells us how great players rise to the occasion in the face of doubt.

According to Shiv Sethuraman , chief executive officer, TBWA India, adidas is 'the athlete's brand', with a unique perspective. "While most other brands look at cricket from the outside, adidas does so from the inside," he says. The 'Bring It On' campaign, he continues, is out to leverage this very perspective by portraying the athletes in a new light. "The campaign demonstrates the players' passion that enables them to triumph over doubts, fears, criticisms and expectations," adds Sethuraman.

Another insight used is that the career and ability of a cricketer is shaped by what happens off the pitch (for instance, training sessions and personal targets), rather than on it. This campaign is thus about the players' self-belief and determination.

Goculdas adds that the campaign draws on insights gathered by the team through conversations with cricketers.

"As an authentic sports brand, we understand the mind of an athlete, and the hurdles athletes deal with," says Goculdas, adding, "In our constant endeavour to inspire and create strong emotional engagements with consumers, this campaign explores the challenges and fears these great players face and the journeys they take to overcome them. The insight is conveyed using our fantastic portfolio of top cricketers from across the world."

While the campaign is being launched across various media channels, the digital medium will be one of the key drivers.

adidas Gets a Tad Aggressive

All said and done, the brand has been perceived as somewhat subtle in terms of its presence on the advertising circuit, as compared to other brands in its space, such as Nike and Reebok. Will the 'Bring It On' repositioning campaign serve to give adidas some much-needed aggression?

Indranil Das Blah, chief operating officer, KWAN Entertainment and Marketing Solutions, is of the opinion that this has a lot to do with ad slotting. "It is a fabulous campaign of international quality. If this doesn't create buzz in the sports apparel market, then I don't know what will," he opines, adding, nonetheless, "While the fresh statement the brand is making with this campaign is pretty aggressive, its real impact is a function of where these ads are placed. The thought is great. Now, let's wait and watch how the brand utilises this buzz."

This, Blah adds, depends on how much adidas is willing to spend on appropriate and adequate slotting of this campaign. Given that the campaign has broken after the initial World Cup matches, it sure looks like the ad spends are steep.

"Since the interest of the viewers in the game increases after the first few games, slots get more expensive from the quarter finals onwards, as compared to those at the start of the tournament," says Blah. He goes on to comment on how, given these facts, the timing of the campaign is apt.

Goculdas sums up, "Over the last two-and-a-half years, four or five sports seasons have come and gone, and adidas has been doing visible ad campaigns all through. This time, the tone of the campaign is such that it looks aggressive and achievement-oriented."

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