Adidas' latest campaign, a global effort for Originals, starts at the very beginning, with company co-founder Adi Dassler at his desk in a humble workshop. Using his bicycle-operated leather cutter, a painstakingly constructed, stop-motion Adi puts the finishing touches on a proto-Samba before the narrator, famed German actor Jurgen Prochnow, begins to speak of Dassler's achievements, from ensuring the German football team was properly shod in the 1954 World Cup final to providing Ilie Nastase footwear for his tantrums.
Part corporate training film, part identity statement, the leadoff in a series of films, shot by Stink's Martin Krejci, recreates the solitary innovator, Dassler. 180 Amsterdam executive creative director Richard Bullock says the agency was able to use Dassler as its leading innovator after looking at his footwear innovations and role in the brand's innovation. "This guy who started this sports company was basically the true original of the sports marketing game, he kicked everything off in 1924 and repeatedly was the first to do these things," Bullock says. "We wanted to talk about this guy and the defining things he'd done, trace why it was this sports brand that got out into the world—why did Bob Marley and Run DMC wear it?"
Dassler certainly doesn't break dance or juggle a football, though; the agency understandably had to be careful in its portrayal of the company's revered patriarch. From Dassler's murky wartime operations to the bitter split between Adi and brother Rudolf, who went on after the war to found Puma and divide their hometown of Herzogenaurach into competing camps, there's a lot about the man the brand wouldn't want to broach. Throughout the film Dassler doesn't speak, and his face is never seen full-on. "We had to handle him very, very carefully, because we'd been told before sometimes they don't even talk about him," Bullock says. "This time they really wanted us to talk about it, but we wanted to be really respectful."
Part of that respect is conveyed in the attention to detail the Czech puppetmaking team imparted to the 1:3 scale set and props. The shoes are constructed from real leather, and in the extended, three-minute web version, the TVs where side-stories of adidas wearers like Mohammed Ali and Mark Gonzalez do their thing have screens made from real glass. Rounding out the film is a score recorded by the Czech Symphony Orchestra.
Creative Dario Nucci stressed how the in-house web development (along with production partner Random) allowed the creatives to nail down the website's role early in the process. "The website is parallel. It's a place where you can go deeper into the information. During the shooting of the film we had a digital team go down there, and because we knew what the animatic was in the beginning we knew what scenes would be available for the website." Additionally, the team shot 360-degree views of the special shoes created by the puppetmakers to animate on the site.
The effort, beginning with the Dassler-replica, expands into line-specific areas, featuring location-based stories shot in Detroit; Kingston, Jamaica; Manchester; Cape Town; London and Berlin—filmed and posted concurrently with the extensive development of the animated work. "It was kind of a roll-out process, going shoot, post, shoot, post," says producer Cat Reynolds. "While we were shooting and doing production on those films, "Adi Dassler" was being prepped and then shot and then edited."
Different Stink directors shot those elements, which are slated to arrive in the next few months. Sounds of the City, the first of these subsets, are, as Bullock describes them, "semi-documentary mixed with ideas." The first features Detroit-based musician Theo Parrish, who goes through the city capturing samples of daily life to use in his music. In addition to shooting for TV, 180 brought photographers to capture photojournalist-style images for catalog and fanzine use.