Adidas mines possibilities with Web effort

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As Adidas' "Impossible Is Nothing" TV ad provoked praise and criticism, the online portion of the fantasy bout between Muhammad Ali and his daughter, Laila, was quietly becoming a knockout success for the sneaker maker.

Not only did the two-week placements of a streaming media video, which was identical to the TV ad, prompt 5 million streams-or viewings-of the ad, it also created heightened brand awareness among the 12-to-24-year-old consumers Adidas most wanted to reach. In addition to TV, the offline aspects included billboards and print inserts, and appeared during the same two weeks in February.

In the campaign overall, "we were trying to reach that teen audience that is dedicated to sports," said Tara Moss, Internet business developer, Adidas America. "Their performance apparel and footwear is really necessary to them in their daily lives."

Five million streams for one ad is an excellent response, according to analysts, and shows that Adidas has leaped on a couple of trends that make it an Internet contender. Even up against Web-savvy heavyweights like Nike.

repurposing

"We are seeing more and more re-purposing of TV commercials online," said David Hallerman, senior analyst at New York research firm eMarketer. "The increase in broadband, now in one-third of American homes, makes people more receptive to this kind of ad because it is not painful to access."

Plus, streaming media is hot. "The performance of streaming ads is incredible both in terms of direct response and brand-building metrics," said Lynn Bolger, exec VP-agency development at research firm comScore.

The 30-second online spot showed a young Muhammed Ali in a match against his boxer daughter, Laila. Her voice-over says, "Impossible is an opinion. When they said a girl can't box, what do you think my father said? `Rumble, young girl, rumble.' "

The aim was to connect improvement, challenge and achievement with the Adidas brand, said Paul Santello, VP-group account director, Carat Interactive, the agency that handled the online effort.

Starting Feb. 11, the Internet ad ran on Yahoo! and MSN's home pages for a day each, and two days on ESPN's home page. Then, until Feb. 25, the spot showed on a number of ESPN's sports sites. It also appeared on Yahoo's e-mail, sports and chat sites, in front of consumers known by their registration information to be the right age. Hundreds of millions of ads were served-Adidas' largest online campaign ever, according to Ms. Moss.

On some sites, the viewer had to click through to a microsite, www.adidas.com/iin to view the ad. There, the visitor could view other ads in the Impossible Is Nothing collection. One million clickthroughs were recorded.

Better still, there was a lift of 75% in associating the messaging with the brand, and a 24% lift in people remembering they had seen the ad on the Internet, according to an online survey by marketing research firm Dynamic Logic.

search interests

As impressive, on the Yahoo! home page, there was a 125% spike in usage of the search term "Adidas" the day the ad appeared, according to Ms. Moss. "We saw the highest search interest from males in the age group 13 to 17," she said.

On the other Yahoo! properties, Adidas knew it was reaching its intended audience because the portal directed ads to folks who fit the marketer's requirements. Yahoo! uses registration data, which includes age, gender, ZIP code, industry they work in (if applicable) and interests. Yahoo! then determines in aggregate if an advertiser has hit its target.

Ms. Moss said the online component was particularly effective in reaching this young demographic.

That's not surprising, Mr. Hallerman said. This age group accounts for a significantly larger share of Internet usage relative to the U.S. population. While 18-to-34-year-olds comprise only 24% of the population, they account for 38% of the total time spent online and 40% of the total pages viewed, according to research from the Online Publishers Association and comScore. This skew is even more pronounced among men in this age range.

"Males 18 to 34 are spending less time watching TV ... and more time online," Mr. Hallerman said. Why don't they just watch the ad on TV? "There's an intimacy in watching something on your own personal computer," he said.

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