Critically evaluate a recent multi-channel advertising campaign of your choice Adidas is ‘all in’ – they have launched the biggest marketing campaign in the brand’s history. This is the first time that the company has created a campaign ‘leveraging’ the Adidas Sport Performance, Adidas Originals and Adidas Sport Style sub-brands, ensuring that it is the most diverse and extensive glimpse into the brand ever. The campaign showcases Adidas’ distinctive presence across and into different sports, cultures and lifestyles fusing the worlds of sport, music and fashion (Adidas 2011).
To properly evaluate this marketing campaign I shall be answering questions that should be raised. First, whether Adidas has adopted a more contemporary approach to marketing communications in response to new research and new media? Second, have Adidas been ethical in their campaign? Thirdly, what channels have Adidas used and how effective have these been? Lastly, I shall be questioning the effectiveness of the campaign as a whole and the measure of success of the campaign so far. The theory behind communication is an understanding of the thought processes of the consumer.
Shankar notes that the traditional view is that marketing communications do things to consumers. Where marketers write messages; the consumer reads the message and the intended effect is expectantly adopted. Shankar continues to explain that this idea has evolved to readers of marketing communications actively ‘doing things’ to the communications (1999). It is suggested that a contemporary marketing approach is adopted where consumers create a variety of meanings and therefore interpret advertising according to their culture and individuality (Mick & Buhl, 1992).
Adidas within their campaign have developed a strategy realising that diversity within all sports, fashion and music allows for differing interpretations from different types of consumers. The ‘120 edition all in’ (2011) advert shows a wide mix of different sports, fashion and music ‘all in’ one to communicate to the consumer that Adidas is ‘global’, enriching and all-embracing. It is not conceived as an occasional medium of product information but rather a ground where human reality is present (Mick and Buhl, 1992).
By adopting a more humanistic approach to marketing relationships – that is, ‘a relationship based on trust, commitment and shared values – results in enduring relationships between marketers and consumers in the long term’ (Mick and Buhl, 1992, as cited by Hutton, 1996). Results from research carried out before 1994 shows that adolescents have become increasingly skeptical about advertisements and their tactics (Bousch et al, 1994). Adidas is targeting high school athletes with an online advert that promotes Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose’s new shoe (2011).
Derrick Rose one of the best players in the NBA stars in the advert. Results show despite the skepticism there may be, adolescents are more inclined towards the status of owning a pair (Adidas 2011). On a different note Adidas have released a 3D advert called Adipower Barricade (2011), an integral part of Adidas Sport Style. It shows their new tennis shoe being dissected into the shapes forming the shoe. There is emphasis on the cushioning and stability followed by the shoe being put back together. This is a prime example of the encoding and decoding of thought processes suggested by Reddy (1993).
This theory has been used by Adidas to send a message, an exchange of meaning, to the consumer who can visualize the components emphasizing the qualities of the product. The encoding and decoding can result in differing meanings by the consumer. The dissection of the shoe could be interpreted as a clever and innovative design enhancing performance, which is the intended meaning by the marketer. Or someone might think differently and his or her meaning may have nothing to do with the intended meaning (Scott, 1994).
In this example one might think that the shoe only has three parts so is very simple and therefore they possibly ignore its unique value. Furthermore, Adidas has been successful in creating a free-floating signifier whereby they are not tightly anchored to one signified product or service so that they can point or extend the sign to other products and services such as sport, music and fashion (Mick & Glen, 1986). Their famous 3-line logo has a big part to play in their branding. The shape of the 3 stripes on the Adidas Logo represents a mountain, pointing out towards the challenges that are seen ahead and goals that can be achieved.
Adidas’ ‘all 2012’ (2011) advert shows Snoop Dogg (a rapper), Warren G (a rapper) and Phillips Idowu (a triple jumper) take on GB basketball in some 3 on 3. Is it a coincidence that Adidas have chosen 3 on 3? There are 3 stripes in their logo and the non-basketball players have a challenge ahead to beat the GB basketball team, a very similar representation of the logo. Moreover, this advert incorporates the 2012 Olympics, music and their fashion range without looking specifically at one product or service (Proctor et al, 2002).
Proctor et al explains that post-modern advertisements destroy traditional narrative structure by presenting fragmented sequences of images, affection and mood and make it difficult for the viewer to reconstruct a story line (2002). Adidas, for example, employs concept-based advertising campaigns, which make use of a process known as ‘image transfer’. Adidas’ ‘all in’ ads almost never specifically place a product or mention a brand name. A mood or atmosphere is created and then the brand is associated with that mood.
It is left to the viewer to draw any conclusions through behavioural reactions in terms of obtaining attention, developing interest and stimulating desire for the brand (Malhotra, 1999). There are ethical issues that must be evaluated for Adidas’ 2011 campaign. The production of their marketing communications, the cost of advertising and their branding ethics should be considered. Positive ethics shall also be discussed such as encouragement of healthy activities and equality. Communication ethics is an essential philosophy for the information age.
Ethics is central to the building of trust inside and outside the organisation (Beckett, 2003). First, in nearly all of Adidas’ advertisements exercise and sport is a key theme. This encourages healthy living. In addition to this, throughout their ‘all in’ campaign it is clear that Adidas have adopted an ‘equal’ formality. For example, there is a short film created by Adidas of Haile Gebrselassie visiting South Africa (2011) for consumer activations in Johannesberg and Cape Town. It shows both male and female athletes of all races running behind Haile.
Moreover, Haile is wearing a bright green top as well as everyone behind him wearing bright blue. Africa is usually connected with poverty and a greyer area of the world. Adidas in their campaign input colour suggesting a brighter place. Furthermore, with Haile surrounded by people suggests integration. More negatively Hackley et al develop the idea that marketing communication is some form of “social pollution” and may be harmful to consumer decision-making. Moreover, advertisements "intend to make us feel we are lacking". There is constant bombardment of messages - indicating product onsumption in lifestyle settings where materialism is encouraged (1999). Adidas on the one hand do link their brand with status but many would argue that the ‘all in’ campaign is largely located in social media where consumers actually decide to consume the advert instead of being ‘bombarded’. Adidas use repetitive combination of the product concept, logo and brand name with certain images; these generate emotional responses relating to ideas of freedom, power, attractiveness and importantly status. Ethically we must comment that we are inclined to extend human qualities to non-human products or brands (Muniz et at, 2001).
To add to this children are not born with the innate ability to understand the underlying context of cultural meanings at work in marketing communications e. g. a pair of Adidas trainers cannot really make you run faster (Cova, 1997). Adidas throughout their ads imply that the successful athletes’ ability and skills improve due to Adidas’ products. Soberman reveals that according to a special report in The Economist, the average consumer now sees more than 3,000 commercials per day (2005). Not surprisingly, many consumers may feel that companies trying to sell them things are constantly invading their lives.
There are far more adverts today than ever due to the increase in amounts of channels advertisers can use. Adidas especially through new social media have more so integrated their marketing communications. Kliatchko defines integrated marketing communications (IMC) as an ‘audience-driven business process of strategically managing stakeholders, content, channels, and results of brand communication’ (2008, p. 140). I shall be evaluating their channel choices and results of these choices in the next section of this assignment.
Soberman explains that because there is an increase in options that firms have for communication with consumers, the allocation of media is increasingly complex. According to Soberman there is sophisticated use of information to allocate marketing spending and it has become common for experts to provide assistance to media buying. Soberman continues to state that one of the natural consequences of targeted media is that less advertising is wasted. Firms can reduce the quantity of advertising that is sent to the consumer who has no interest in their products.
This suggests that targeting should reduce advertising spending since waste can be eliminated (2005). Adidas have used targeted media as a central part of their campaign. Conversely the IMC planning approach deliberately takes on the consumer’s perspective in deciding which channels would be most effective in reaching target audiences. By conducting a brand contact audit of consumers, as well as examining the consumer’s ‘path to purchase’, marketers could determine which contact points or channels are relevant to them and which they prefer as sources of information about a company and its brands.
The brand contact audit may also aid marketers in determining how consumers would want to communicate and interact with the company in return. Furthermore, it may also be said that an understanding of how audiences are reached through their preferred channels of communication is of greater importance than what content is delivered to them, for if audiences are not accurately reached, it makes little difference what message a marketer conveys (Kliatchko, 2008). Adidas have included Facebook, YouTube, in game advertising (IGA), mobile ads and magazines as well as TV adverts as channels for their 2011 ‘all in’ campaign.
Adidas has been drawn to Facebook advertising (2011) because they can reach the exact audience they want with relevant targeted ads. For example if Adidas want to reach people who play football they can select the ad to only reach those who have ‘football’ under their personal likes or activities. Moreover, Adidas have created actual Facebook pages of their sub brands e. g. Adidas Originals (2011). This enables them to create a community around their brand where people can ‘like’ the page and even write on their wall. This creates ‘fans’ of the brand.
This in my opinion is exactly what Hirschman et al insinuate about advertising becoming more ‘meaningful’ to the consumer (1997). In addition Facebook allows the opportunity of (CPC) where Adidas only pay if people click on their ad. This means that Adidas only pays for people who are choosing to be advertised to. This differs from TV adverts where there may be a lot of irrelevant people receiving the advert, yet Adidas still have to pay for it. To add to this one of Adidas’ main objectives of the ‘all in’ campaign was to extend the power of TV by integrating their ads across all digital platforms.
Adidas used famous athletes and celebrities in their adverts to drive consumer interest to the brand. Adidas (2011) started with YouTube. Adidas have their own YouTube channel where there are longer versions of their adverts that are first seen on TV. Not only this but Adidas also create ‘the making of’ their adverts that are shown on YouTube. Adidas in partnership with Carat, worked with Google to extend their video brand messages to digital. With Google’s unique cross-channel capabilities, Adidas was able to extend its original TV messaging across all digital platforms including both PC & mobile versions of YouTube.
Adidas used mobile advertising for the AdiZero Rose 2 line of shoes to drive US college students to the YouTube advert but stated that 25% of clicks were accidents and students exited the advert before it had loaded. Despite this there was success and advertising resulted in a 1,400+% lift in brand response conversions, i. e. site visits and searches for the Adidas brand on Google and YouTube. Subscribers to the Adidas channel also doubled over the life of the campaign (Adidas 2011).
Furthermore Adidas use IGA in games such as FIFA 2012 and many other sport games. In FIFA 2012 there are billboards on the side of the pitch that just say ‘adidas’ and there are Adidas footballs the player can choose to play with and this is seen in replays of goals. Kliatchko (2008) advance the advantages of media integration in that each medium enhances the contributions of all other media, and that the impact of a variety of media, when used in synergy, can be much greater than the sum total of their individual effects.
In a study of IMC at the marketing–sales interface, also propound that the synergy across media elements is important in that spending on one medium may strengthen the effectiveness of another (Kliatchko, 2008, as cited by Smith et al, 2006) An example of this is Adidas’ ‘making of’ their ‘all in’ adverts. Effectiveness of marketing communications as I see it is all to do with financial success. Companies used to find it difficult to measure how effective their brand campaign was in terms of finance. Financial success across the brand Adidas is dependent on successful marketing campaigns directed toward key target audiences.
A huge part of Adidas’ ‘all in’ campaign was to adopt IMC by using social media with sites such as Facebook and especially YouTube. Contemporary advertising has led to more contemporary measures of effectiveness. Kliatchko explains that the tradition models of measuring effectiveness that focus on evaluating communication effects (e. g. brand recall or brand awareness) and outputs (e. g. what media placements were bought) concentrate on attitudes. The IMC approach measures behavioural responses (e. g. actual purchases made by customers) and outcomes (i. e. financial returns in terms of income flows from consumers).
At the heart of IMC, therefore, is the drive for accountability – that is, IMC programmes must be accountable for business results. This is done through a process of customer valuation and by estimating return-on-customer-investments, or ROCI (i. e. the predicted incremental sales achieved by investing in specific customers) (Kliatchko, 2008). Kliatchko (2005) further explains that measuring IMC programmes focuses on customers that generate returns for the brand and estimating the impact and effect that a variety of brand marketing investments might have on the programme.
On the one hand, the process of customer valuation allows Adidas to determine how much a target aggregate or market is worth for the firm, and helps identify more accurately which aggregate is really worth investing in. Estimating ROCI, on the other hand, aids marketers to determine and evaluate not only returns to the firm but also to ascertain the wealth contribution of investments made in target customers. Adidas does not allow access to such results in each target market. Effective forecasting is of course needed as measuring IMC relies on predictions.
This assignment questions Adidas’ contemporary approach to marketing, its ethics within the campaign, channel choices and effectiveness. I think it is fair to say that Adidas’ ‘all in’ campaign has adopted a more contemporary way of marketing. Their success in this campaign has been their ability to utilize new channels such as Facebook and YouTube by creating much more than a brand but a community. Their ethics in this campaign in my opinion is respectable as they promote equality and there is nothing wrong with what they are advertising. I would say it is only extremists who would comment on their ethics in terms of manipulating consumers.
Without brands the world we live in would be without identity. Adidas have also been efficient by targeting specific audiences with the help of YouTube and Facebook as their content is relevant and consumers from what I have seen appreciate their marketing. It is no wonder that Adidas was voted 2nd best viral ad of 2011. Moreover, there have been recent changes in measuring effectiveness and this must play a part in Adidas’ target marketing success. Adidas before this campaign were 2nd behind Nike in the US as the leading sport manufacturer. Adidas have recently become a tier one sponsor of the Olympics 2012 with a 100 million investment, so this may soon change. I must also comment on the need for more research into contemporary marketing because so much has changed in the last 3 years with the emergence of new technologies and channels. Adidas use Twitter, as another marketing channel but there is little empirical research on this and the effect it has on marketing. In my opinion companies such as Adidas have to keep up-to-date with these channels as their target market being mostly young people and young adults increasingly use them instead of more traditional channels.
Marketing communication is a central focus point of Adidas’ success and their ‘all in’ advert is a reflection on this.
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