Adidas Case Study Strategy

Adidas are a global brand; a sporting superpower that sell quality products and deal with the biggest stars in sports. It’s not just about products though, they are awesome at social media marketing. We take a look at why this is in our latest case study…

Channel analysis


Adidas are a huge company. It’s no surprise that they have several sectors to the business and each requires its own social media presence across the major social networks which of course includes Twitter. In this case study I will be concentrating on the general Adidas channels, not focused on the sector accounts as much.

Below is a screenshot of the @adidas Twitter profile. By verifying their account, their 2.09M followers and many more can easily find their profile. This account mainly retweets the other Adidas brand accounts and brings together the Adidas brand as a whole. The retweets are mostly of videos and images posted by the brand accounts and then promoted on this account.

Some of the tweets I can see are planned for real-time use based around events. One example is the UEFA Champions League Final, during the match the athletes using Adidas equipment were used in images created in case of a key event in the match. For example, Luis Suarez and Alvaro Morata scored in the match and are both athletes who use Adidas equipment and because of this, during the match they tweeted an image of these athletes using the trending hashtag for the match. As a global brand getting involved in an event most of the world was interested in, they got a lot of engagement. This is very good planning and good Twitter marketing!



Again, Adidas have a lot of brand channels dedicated to different sectors of their company.
Their Facebook page shows the same header image branding but a different logo. However, Adidas are so well known as a brand that the logo is similar in design to the Twitter profile picture and it is still recognizable. They have an extremely large fan base on Facebook, again due to their brand name being known worldwide.

One of the ways I think that Adidas kill it on social media is by integrating their other brand channels into their existing channels. The Videos tab on their Facebook page obviously contains the same content from the YouTube channels and as a result, also their other Facebook pages within relevance. I see this as quite similar to sharing a blog post through every member of staff’s social media accounts. Cross promotion.

They do post the video content that they have and the other visual content that they have used on other social channels, this is a good way to get the full use out of any content you have. One way I can see that Adidas gain influence on Facebook is how they like other pages, but more specifically they share the content and get their content shared on these pages. They like pages that are created for the clients they have, the sportsmen and women they work with and their clubs/ national teams or associations. If Adidas release new equipment, these pages could share the content to their audience if they will be using it, this would come as some news for both parties. News for Adidas, they have a new product. News for the athlete, they will be using this new piece of equipment.


Once again, Adidas have used the same branding on the header image and one of the same logos. They have fully connected their social media channels and other brand accounts to this account using the ‘featured channels’ section and the profile information.
The featured video is obviously a recent campaign that the company are running but is relevant for this channel. Each channel uses a more relevant and specific campaign focused featured video, but as the general Adidas account this channel will not be as focused on one area of the company and it’s products. This way it can become the leader of the brand accounts, be more broad in it’s appeal to an audience and then influence it’s audience to look toward the other accounts that the brand has set up.

This account has only 40 videos. BUT… they have added playlists for the videos that come from the other Adidas brand accounts. They have 27 playlists at the moment and this way can collate the content that is relevant to them without being too in favor of one sector of the business. There is not noticeably more content around Football, or clothing or particular sports in the playlists.


If you have a great product, or even better a lot of great products your social media channels can become very visual. Adidas take visual social media such as Instagram seriously and get very serious results because of that. The post below got over 100 thousand likes in less than a day. Why? Their product is awesome. With awesome content they can create social media content around the products and athletes they are associated and in partnership with.

It’s not even all about selling products. The Adidas Instagram is used to generate awareness of the brand and the products. The great visual content on the channel helps drive more enthusiasm and thirst from the user to get Adidas products. Adidas do get a huge amount of engagement, which means the brand has a very high influence. This boosts their Klout score and will make their other social media channels more influential too because as you grow your influence and audience you become more of a trusted source of quality content.

With regards to real time marketing, Instagram is a social channel Adidas use well. For example, in the build up the to FIFA Women’s World Cup in Montreal, Adidas supplied the match balls. They posted a picture of the final match ball with a view of the stadium used for the final match and used the location Montreal so that people in or searching for this location would discover this content. This adds another way of getting their brand seen and engaged with, not just through hashtags and their existing following.

Great Content

One way that we can see it’s not quite as difficult for other companies than it is for Adidas to start marketing is that they already have excellent, world renowned products. In a sense, nothing they want to sell is a hard sell and they already have the deals in place for huge stars in lots of sports to wear and endorse their products. People lap up sport video, which is another reason why just a video of a contracted athlete wearing their products would go so far for Adidas. One such campaign is the There Will Be Haters (see below) launch with the new Adidas football boots. Launched featuring adverts and videos created with stars like Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and James Rodriquez went viral simply because of the profile of the stars and the products.

That doesn’t mean to say the campaign wasn’t very good, but there was an element of assistance from the pre-existing profiles both Adidas and the players already have.

Aside from that Adidas are looking to inspire and make you want to be like these athletes and then buy the same equipment they use (Adidas products), the  content is so good that people will just watch it either way. Do avid football fans want to see Karim Benzema, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale in a new football advert? Yes, I for one do. Even if I just want to see the latest commercial starring the best footballers on the planet, I would still watch this over and over. Why? These athletes are in-demand and that’s why Adidas are working with them in these videos.

People want to hear, see or get close to the athletes and heroes they have. Even if the viewers do not actually want to buy the products, they might share the content and their connections might want to. That’s the value Adidas get from having such a good industry standing and the way they can work with these stars.

What makes Adidas different?

If you know a lot about sport and brands like Adidas, you will know that Nike are perhaps their main competitor. Nike focus on the athletes that are contracted to use their equipment and this separates the 2 brands clearly. Adidas use similar methods to Nike, they share great content based around their brand and industry and because of their brand they get huge responses from it. But what makes Adidas different?

Adidas very much stick to an enforced company culture and set of values which make them different to their competitors. In comparison to Nike, they are not as fierce as a brand. Adidas offer equipment and products for the all round sportsman or woman ranging from beginner level to professional standard use. The way in which Adidas are more of a “good guy” brand is important. Not that Nike are “bad guys” at all, but their premiere athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo can be portrayed in this way at times and this perhaps gets swept into the Nike brand through the content they produce around these stars. As an example, Nike produced a video for the launch of Cristiano Ronaldo’s new football boots, focusing solely on him being a superstar and “out of this world” (see below).

Adidas haven’t quite taken such a stance. They haven’t gone for “best in the world”, but they recognize that their athletes are global stars. This is how I think Adidas are different, they do not commit to statements that are debatable. By this I am referring to calling Cristiano Ronaldo the best in the world at Football, at the time he had won an award to give him such a claim but lets not forget that Lionel Messi is contracted to Adidas. He won the same award the previous 3 years to this, no such claims.

In terms of social media, I think Adidas have worked out a hierarchy for their social media channels. The general Adidas account oversees and collates the content of the other channels as if to promote that content as part of the brand. As we saw with Twitter, the Adidas account shared the content from the other brand channels as well as some of it’s own. I personally feel like doing this elevates the general brand Adidas and then helps the brand draw attention to it’s more specific areas, including the specific sports accounts or the women’s accounts. If you become attracted to the leader account and see that it is sharing the other brand accounts, you might be inclined to pay more attention to that account and the products they are sharing or promote.

Key lessons

Based on this research I think that there are a few lessons we can learn from how Adidas use social media. I think the key ones for us are:

  • Having a clear strategy (how Adidas use separate accounts)
  • Visual content is awesome
  • Real time marketing gets engagement and results
  • “Great content” is essential

What do you think? Get in touch with us on social media and share this post with your connections!

Ollie Whitfield

My job is a joy every day because of the work I get to do and the people I get to work with and for. I train and advise our clients on their digital strategy, social and content. When I go home from the office I’m a freelance content writer. Get to know me and you’ll certainly hear about my 6-a-side football team, pool playing and all of the sport news.

Case study provided by the Superbrands organisation.


During the 1990s the UK sporting goods industry enjoyed a period of sustained growth. The market continues to be driven by two or three main brands plus a number of niche players although there continues to be market penetration by "traditional" fashion brands into the field of sport.

Within the UK, estimates show the sporting goods market commanded annual retail sales of £2.8bn during 2000. It is anticipated that these levels will be maintained, albeit in a rapidly consolidating retail sector, during 2001 and 2002.

Another legacy from the 1990s is the interest shown in sports brands by the nation's youth, where apparel and footwear are as likely to be worn in everyday life as on the sports field.


After the 1980s, when the brand experienced several years of declining sales, Adidas embarked on a strategy of improving the brand's image in the eyes of consumers. Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who became the owner of Adidas in 1992, oversaw the development of this strategy, along with a review of all operating procedures.

With the newly rejuvenated image, improvements in production efficiency, turnover and market share followed to establish Adidas as the market leader in sportswear apparel and the clear number two in sports footwear.

More recently, as the competition became increasingly fierce, it was necessary to defend this strong position through a sustained and significant marketing and communications programme. This investment placed Adidas among the top spending brands in the consumer marketplace in the late 1990s. This period also presented a different set of challenges. It became increasingly necessary to navigate a rapidly changing sports consuming market by targeting the wider youth segment (along with the sports participants) through a number of tailored marketing initiatives. This allowed Adidas to move into the new millennium in a position of strength relative to both sports competitors and emerging youth brands.

The brand continues to focus on and believe in a 'performance' philosophy. Practically, this means supporting the best athletes, teams and competitions across the globe. With this in mind there are currently partnerships being built with the likes of David Beckham (football), Zinedine Zidane (football), Sergio Garcia (golf), Ato Bolden (athletics), The New Zealand All Blacks (rugby), Real Madrid (football) and the reigning World and European football champions, France.

The brand has and will continue to have a long association with a number of sporting events. The 2000 Olympics in Sydney is the latest chapter in a rich history. This event also saw Adidas supply sportswear to the British Olympic Association for the fifth time (since the event was held in Los Angeles 1984). Football has been an important part of the Adidas sporting calendar. 1998 saw Adidas as an official sponsor of the World Cup in France and in June and July 2000 the brand was an official supplier to the European Football Championships that took place in the Benelux.


Adi Dassler, a cobbler from the village of Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, created the very first Adidas sports shoe in 1920. From humble beginnings the Adidas corporation expanded into a global company that has become synonymous with world sport. Many of the fundamental principles that the first shoes were built upon remain firmly rooted in the company philosophy today.

Dassler was an athlete as well as a shoemaker and applied his understanding to producing products for athletes that helped improve performance at the highest level of sports.

Dassler's efforts in the service of sport earned him more than 700 patents and other industrial property rights, many of them for revolutionary new products. The company was, and remains today, committed to acting on athletes' requirements and learning from them to develop better performance footwear and apparel.

Today, the phrase "listen, test, modify" which was first used by Dassler himself, remains the key to the company's research and development operation. Technical innovations included the world's first soccer shoe with screw-in spikes for track and field shoes. Since Adidas equipped the first athletes at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928, more than 800 world records and medals have been won by athletes using Adidas footwear and apparel at Olympic Games and World Championships.

The company's obsession for making the best performance products for athletes remains central to the brand's philosophy today.


Since the introduction of Dassler's first sports shoe in the 1920s, the Adidas brand has expanded to such an extent that products are now available for almost every sport.

Adidas designs both its apparel and footwear ranges with athletes' functional needs in mind. Design concepts begin with the athlete and as a result top competitors past and present confirm that Adidas equipment always takes into account the latest developments in modern technology.

In preparation for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Adidas put its apparel and footwear through 18 months of athlete track and laboratory testing to ensure the best possible performance under extremes of heat and humidity. This process paid rich dividends during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when, after a similar development period, Adidas athletes such as Steve Redgrave and Haile Gebreslassie (Ethiopia) achieved record breaking performances.

Recent developments

The Adidas Olympic range is the product of four years of research and testing using some of the world's best athletes. Energy maintenance is the aim with the resulting footwear and apparel being the most technologically advanced to date. Swimming is at the forefront of the new technology in the form of the Equipment Bodysuit, originally pioneered with top swimmers Paul Palmer and Sue Rolph (Great Britain). The bodysuit was further refined during 2000 with the help of world beating swimmer Ian Thorpe (Australia). There are now stroke-specific Equipment Bodysuits to ensure maximum comfort and fit for those competing in all swimming disciplines.

Track and field footwear has also been given the Equipment treatment. The Z-spike is a revolutionary new running spike. Shaped in a 'Z' form the spike grips the track rather than sinking into it. This reduces the drag effect of extracting the spike from the track, thereby saving valuable energy.

Other technological track and field advances include the Performance Plate. This feature, which lies in the soles of shoes helps replicate the speed benefits of metatarsal joint stiffness as found in cheetahs.

At Euro 2000 the world was introduced to the latest Predator football boot, Precision, as worn by David Beckham, Alessandro Del Piero, top scorer Patrick Kluivert and player of the tournament Zinedine Zidane. Once again, Adidas worked with these top players to ensure that the next incarnation of the Predator boot fully enhanced their natural ability.

The new strategic placing of the Predator rubber zones on the metatarsal and medial areas of the boot give greater accuracy and power to passes and shots and can impart more than 20% more swerve on a ball than a standard leather boot. The introduction of Exchangeable Traxion studs allows a player to customise the sole of the boot to differing pitch conditions.

As with its predecessors, the new boot is designed to fit the exact shape of the foot for exceptional comfort. This, coupled with the new technology, produces a product delivering even greater swerve, power and control. The official ball used during the Euro Championships was also supplied by Adidas. It is called the Equipment Silverstream.


Adidas is continuing to acknowledge communication's pivotal role in the ongoing success of the brand. Furthermore, Adidas is now committed to a totally integrated approach to all its marketing activity. This alignment will allow the brand to defend and grow its equity with confidence.

The most significant and public side to the set of activities is the high profile brand advertising. Recently, a number of key symbols and teams have featured in media rich campaigns targeted at both the sports and wider youth audiences. Adidas is committed to incorporating new and developing media into the mix, a strategy that has seen everything from giant 80-foot billboards to the internet being utilised to connect with the Adidas target audience.

Continuing sponsorship and support of some of the world's top athletes and teams has also helped Adidas successfully position itself as the brand of choice in sport.

Finally, there is an extensive grassroots sport program where Adidas, along with some of the nation's best coaches, help athletes of all ages get the most they can from their sport.

Brand values

The Adidas brand positioning is clear and distinct. Adidas has a genuine respect for sport and this is manifested in its obsession for making the best performance products for athletes.

The brand mission is quite simply to become the "best sports brand in the world" and the leading performance brand in all competing sporting goods categories.

This is achieved by producing the highest quality performance products at marketplace prices. Products will continue to be designed and developed to enhance the performance of all sports participants, irrespective of their age, gender or ability.

Things you didn't know

  • Adi Dassler trained as a baker but unable to find work, he set up a small shoemaking operation at the back of a local laundry.
  • The first workshop machine he installed was an ingenious man-powered trimmer made out of a bicycle and some left over wood.
  • Legendary American athlete Jesse Owen won four gold medals in a pair of Dassler track spikes during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
  • Adi Dassler's brother, Rudolf, set up Puma in direct competition to Adidas. In Sydney 2000, Adidas supplied products for 26 out of the 28 Olympic sports (equestrian and sailing being the two exceptions).
  • David Beckham's 60 metre, halfway line goal during the 1997-1998 football season was scored in Predator boots he had borrowed from a fellow player. Adi Dassler developed the first ever screw-in stud for football boots.

    © 2002 Superbrands Ltd

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