Adidas knocks soccer giants off their pedestal in the brand's first work to debut out of new agency 72andSunny. The new ad, "Create Your Own," shows an aspiring football pro leveraging his creative skills to take on some of the sport's icons including Leo Messi, Gareth Bale, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and James Rodriguez -- and even NBA pro Ricky Rubio.
"These are not just my heroes anymore; they're my competition," the young athlete says in the ad.
Directed by Smuggler's Henry-Alex Rubin, the spot touts the message that athletes need to "unfollow your heroes" and carve out their own path in order to achieve greatness.
"The game of soccer has changed and we want to celebrate the new, the different, the rule makers and innovators," Eric Liedtke, Adidas board member responsible for global brands, said in a statement. "'Create Your Own Game' is a compelling concept, inspiring the creators of today to push the game forward. It encapsulates the brand's vision that is relevant to all sports and athletes and encourages creators to think differently, take inspiration from heroes, but ultimately create their own game."
The new ad is part of the next phase of the Sport15 campaign that began in February with former agency 180 L.A. According to the statement, the 72andSunny work "represents a complete shift in how Adidas communicates as a company." The agency won the Adidas global account in March without a review and will be responsible for the brand's worldwide messages across a number of sports.
According to 72andSunny CCO Glenn Cole, the challenges of the brief were to "wake up the world to the new Adidas, make a meaningful connection with next generation creators and celebrate the greatest footballer of all time."
Although the spot might be the stuff of a young footballer's wildest imagination, "we didn't set out to make a fantastical soccer ad," added Mr. Cole, whose earlier career at Wieden & Kennedy included memorable work for Nike, such as the epic 1996 ad "Good vs. Evil."
"We wanted to make a meaningful statement that would inspire footballers to unleash their personal creativity," Mr. Cole said. "Our priority was a genuine connection with the badass creative athletes, and our playground was real football culture."
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As for the thinking behind putting an unknown athlete on par with the giants, Mr. Cole explained that "at some point, to become truly great, you'll have to re-cast your heroes as your competition. You'll have to be willing to take them off their pedestals to see if you merit a pedestal of your own."
The new campaign's focus on "potential greatness" seems to echo recent work for Adidas Originals, created out of Johannes Leonardo, in which Pharrell "passes the baton" of superstardom to up-and-coming artists. But Mr. Cole said any similarities are just a coincidence. "That said, I do think the line between artist and athlete is as blurry as it has ever been, and across the world, Adidas has committed itself to being a sort of open source sports brand that enables creators, whether that's Kanye or Messi, to do what they do better than anyone else -- create."
The "Create Your Own" ad will be running in more than fifty countries and will live on all channels, paid and owned, but Mr. Cole said "this is just the beginning." Up next is a another spot showcasing Leo Messi and "the unprecedented ripple effect that a once-in-a-lifetime player" has on others.