Tumblr Unveils First Major Brand Campaign for Adidas

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Less than two months after announcing its plunge into paid advertising, Tumblr has sold a month-long campaign to a global advertiser: Adidas.

Tumblr's Radar ad unit
Tumblr's Radar ad unit

The footwear retailer launched an official soccer Tumblr blog in time for the 2012 UEFA European Championship, being played across Poland and the Ukraine starting today. It plans to promote the site with paid placements in the Tumblr "Radar" slot on the user dashboard, which will continue to feature a continually rotating selection of Tumblr blogs picked by the editorial team, but now can be bought as an ad unit for an entire day as well. Adidas will also promote the site on Tumblr's "spotlight" page for sports blogs, where the ad runs three times wider than the teases for organic picks.

Tumblr's first taker for its new ad products was luxury fashion retailer Bottega Veneta, which ran Radar and spotlight ads last week -- which are marked with a dollar sign that looks like it's exuding rays of light to differentiate it from organic content -- but the Adidas campaign has a much bigger scope.

For the launch of its ad units, Tumblr was looking to work with brands that were already active on the platform and had a strong creative vision, according to Tumblr director of product Danielle Strle, who noted that Adidas already had a compelling presence on Tumblr with its fashion- and design-oriented "Adidas Originals" blog. (When he unveiled the ads at Ad Age's Digital Conference in April, Tumblr founder David Karp placed particular emphasis on the importance of design, adding that "anyone interested in doing anything creative with us" should email him.)

"We've been kind of selective as to who we're engaging with for this opportunity right now," Ms. Strle said. "We're trying to ramp up and do a lot of learning from these initial advertisers."

The new Adidas Football Tumblr blog has a Pinterest-like aesthetic with an array of static images and animated GIFs. A YouTube video embedded near the top features famous footballers from Leo Messi to Sandro to Xabi Alonso welcoming visitors to the account by saying "Tumblr" in their various accents. The video was also being featured in the Radar spot yesterday, but Adidas intends to promote fresh content in the spot as Euro 2012 progresses, according to Ms. Strle.

"It's a whole month of sports that they plan to cover, and they'll do a whole series of posts in Radar," she said. "We anticipate that they'll build a huge community of football fans in Tumblr."

Tumblr intends to accelerate the rollout of advertisers over the course of the summer but Ms. Strle declined to say how many the platform planned to accommodate. Tumblr also declined to give details about the pricing of its ad units.

Adidas's global brand marketing director-football, Tom Ramsden, described his vision for the Adidas Football blog in a statement: "We will use Tumblr to share unique content with fans; combining material from our vast footballing archive with fresh, new content produced in real time by a lineup of exciting, up and coming producers."

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