Adidas Originals Highlights Emerging Artists in Superstar Push

New 'Pay It Foward' Approach Aims to Fuel Self-Expression

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Adidas is following up its star-studded spot for its Originals line, which challenges what it means to be a superstar, with a short film that presents the next wave of creators to the world.

The creative, rolling out today, is part of a year-long global campaign that kicked off in January to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Superstar shoe -- the Originals' most iconic and one of its best-selling products.

The latest effort for fall and winter speaks to the brand's younger target audience more closely than the spring and summer work, said Alegra O'Hare, global senior director-brand communications for Adidas Originals.

"It really takes it to another level," said Ms. O'Hare. "We're giving people the opportunity to really create conversations around what it means to be a superstar. It sends a very powerful message [to the] younger generation. It's just a great moment to be yourself and express yourself."

Converse, another lifestyle footwear brand, pushed a similar message to consumers in its "Made By You" campaign, which broke in March. It highlighted customers' creative spirits to celebrate the 98-year-old Chuck Taylor All Star line.

Artist Pharrell Williams, who starred in Adidas' previous Superstar push, returns in the new spot. He worked with agency Johannes Leonardo to highlight five new emerging artists from the brand's core global markets including American hip-hop artists Pusha T, Russian actor and director Grigoriy Dobrygin, Japanese jewelry designer Yoon, Chinese visual artist VJ Mian, and Mexican illustrator Smith. The "Pay It Forward" approach passes the torch of superstardom to these creators who, in turn, will each recognize five more inspiring artists through social media, and so on and so forth, using the hashtag "#OriginalSuperstar."

"We started the campaign with people that the whole world acknowledges as the ultimate superstars because we needed qualified people to say that a superstar is not what they think it is," said Ferdinando Verderi, creative director at Johannes Leonardo, the agency behind the effort. "Now we want to empower the next generation and show the world there's a whole new generation of creators."

The 60-second black-and-white launch spot was directed by Patrick Clair, best known for the title sequences of HBO's "True Detective," AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire" and Marvel's "Daredevil." Photographer Andreas Laszlo Konrath, an up-and-comer, also worked on the project.

The first stretch of the Originals push, which broke earlier this year, helped the lifestyle brand maintain its stronghold after experiencing a "double-digit" bump in sales last year. In the first quarter of 2015, sales for the Originals line shot up by 29%, while Adidas overall sales were up nearly 19%, according to the company's earnings.

"The great thing is that [the growth] is from Superstar... It's just a worldwide trend," said Ms. O'Hare. "It's a very positive year and we're just really excited about this campaign."

New Originals product launches also contributed to the sales boost. During the quarter, Adidas released the Yeezy Boost shoe in collaboration with artist Kanye West, the Tubular sneaker line, a new version of the ZX Flux, and the Superstar Supercolor pack in partnership with Mr. Williams, which introduced the shoe in 50 new shades.

The Superstar push continues running throughout the year, along with other, smaller campaigns for the Originals line.

Adidas Group spent nearly $342 million on domestic advertising in 2014, down 3% from the previous year, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.