It was the most expensive signing in football history. Paul Pogba’s £89m world record transfer move from Juventus back to his old club Manchester United dominated headlines this summer. As an Arsenal fan myself I definitely felt a tad jealous by the way in which it all went down but I could empathise with my rival fans’ excitement – it was a great move for the Barclays Premier League.
It was unravelled like a thriller, the prodigal son Pogba, returning to the giants that rejected him - Manchester United. Adidas’ product placement was literally perfect in this instance as they launched a video campaign called ‘First Never Follows’ featuring Paul Pogba and grime superstar Stormzy which revealed the news of the signing to the world and subsequently went viral. The fifty second snippet which features Pogba’s famous dancing and Stormzy rapping his song ‘Nigo Duppy’ highlights the similarity between sports stars and rap stars. The adoration for both of these young men who own their craft with such swagger could be felt all over the internet. With the enigmatic Pogba who is unapologetically outlandish through his skills on the pitch and his conduct off it and Stormzy, ever the Twitter comedian and who is never shy with his words on Social Media, the pair made for the perfect recipe for a viral marketing campaign
Adidas – Marketing Genius
Adidas, cleverly combined these two spheres together. The famous sportswear brand who sponsor the United kit, have an illustrious history of elevating musicians and sportsmen and women on the same platform in their ads. They literally attached themselves to the whole Pogba saga in a fine display of marketing genius. Previously with another ad which was part of the ‘First Never Follows’ series, when rumours of Pogba’s return were simply just those to his unveiling to the world officially as a Manchester United player. Conspiracy theorists online reckon the reason why the deal stalled for so long was because Adidas needed to film, edit and produce the marketing campaign – well, you can’t blame them for thinking this; it was executed to perfection.
Their ads are almost always filmed in urban environments – London, Paris, Brooklyn but they are carefully crafted and are certainly not cheap. The sportswear brand spent a whopping £11.54bn on their marketing in 2013 and there is certainly more than a hint of class in their ads featuring sports superstars like Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale, Derrick Rose and their All In campaign features music stars Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, B.O.B and Domo Genesis.
A History with Hip Hop
Historically being an urban brand, cemented by their innovative sponsorship of legendary Hip Hop group Run DMC in 1986, Adidas attaching themselves to the sub-culture has only helped to establish their brand on the streets worldwide. Another one of their adverts called ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’ features a song by Grime legend Wiley; Adidas are now helping propel Grime into the mainstream like they did with Hip Hop in the 80s. Rapstars wear Adidas sneakers, footballers wear Adidas kits – Adidas are ever present.
However, the importance of this perception of the brand extends to more than just boosting profits. They now have a true legion of followers amongst our generation by using these idols. Whether they should or shouldn’t be can be debated but rappers and sports personalities inevitably seem to be role models for kids these days and by sporting Adidas sportswear young people feel one inch closer to their idols. Whether they are aspiring sportsmen or musicians these clothing items take them one step closer to their dreams. Part of Adidas’ appeal is their accessibility - fashion is the focal point which bridges these two spheres together and this has clearly been absorbed into their brand.
I now might go out and buy some Adidas F50s and pray I can magically hit a ball like Pogba…don’t laugh, I wasn’t joking!