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Marketer: Adidas

Agency: TBWA Worldwide, Tokyo

Adidas links extreme sports to the Olympic Games as runners race up tall buildings

[Hong Kong] Adidas is following up last year's innovative human billboard in Japan involving a midair soccer game by players who dangled in front of a vertical soccer field with another extreme-sports challenge, this time for runners.

To capitalize on Olympic Games enthusiasm in Asia and bring to life its "Impossible Is Nothing" global marketing platform, Adidas has built 328-foot eight-lane vertical tracks up the side of the Hotel Nikko in Osaka, Japan's second-largest city, and Pacific Place One tower in the Chinese city Hong Kong.

Forty thrill-seeking male and female athletes in each locale will walk, run and climb up and down the track, supported by safety harnesses, throughout August in a contest dubbed the Adidas Impossible Sprint.

The first rounds were scheduled in both cities for Aug. 14 and 15, to be followed by semifinals Aug. 21 and a final round in Hong Kong on Aug. 22 and Osaka on Aug. 28.

The two winners will take home about $10,000 in cash.

The concept was developed by Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide, Tokyo, with executional support from Adidas and Aegis Group's Carat media network. Adidas is not promoting the event through traditional advertising, but hopes to generate substantial local press coverage with human-interest stories involving the athletes.

Adidas' very steep uphill run follows last year's stunt in Tokyo and Osaka, where Adidas and TBWA suspended two players and a ball by ropes 12 stories above the ground to play brief soccer matches in front of a billboard of a soccer pitch.