LONDON: Adidas, the sportswear brand, is shifting away from product-driven marketing which, according to a leading executive, no longer resonates with young people or marketers themselves.

Stefanie Knoren, director of global brand strategy, told a Forrester forum in London that millennials had different expectations and that reaching them was not simply about advertising but about adding value, Marketing reported.

"It is not just about broadcasting and optimising the shit out of our marketing, that's not going to cut it," she said. "Customers are expecting us to be good global citizens."

In recent years much of the advertising focus of sports footwear businesses such as adidas has typically been on the technical developments that bring greater comfort and allow users to run faster for longer.

All that has changed, Knoren said, with this year's There Will Be Haters campaign, which features global footballing stars such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale.

"If you put up a hashtag like #therewillbehaters it is not just enough to talk about new boots," she observed. "People are expecting a conversation around that with you."

Launching the campaign at the start of the year, adidas noted that a great performance delivers "hate" from fans and opponents, particularly on social media, but said the best players used that to fuel their confidence and deliver even greater performances.

Knoren acknowledged that it had been a "bold" move, not least by including Luis Suarez, whose past on-pitch indiscretions have included biting and allegations of racist abuse.

But by putting the brand at the heart of the campaign, she argued that it had been forced to talk to customers directly and authentically about these issues, adding that a shift to conversational marketing had made her feel for the first time that her job had value.

"I always used to be jealous of people that had real jobs, like doctors and lawyers that really help people, and do something good," she remarked. "This is the first time I can feel valuable as a marketer."

Data sourced from Marketing; additional content by Warc staff