MANCHESTER: The summer football transfer saga that eventually saw Paul Pogba move from Juventus to Manchester United for a world-record fee provided a unique activation opportunity for Adidas.
The sportswear brand was a likely winner no matter the outcome, as it is already the kit supplier to both clubs and signed a deal with Pogba himself earlier this year.
But as part of its £75m-a-year deal with the UK club, Adidas has an option to activate the brand wherever possible and it saw an opening in the drawn-out transfer process that engaged football fans around the world.
A series of short video clips featuring Stormzy, a local grime artist and United fan, and including samples of his hit 'Shut Up', appeared as the transfer rumour mill began.
These were followed by clips of Pogba, annoyed at newspaper coverage and again including 'Shut Up' samples as Adidas tapped into fan frustrations as they awaited the outcome of the transfer negotiations.
Anne Semens, head of analytics at Havas Sport and Entertainment, told SportsPro that "Adidas really were core to all of the buzz around this transfer".
"It's probably the first time that we've seen any sponsor so integrated in to the transfer window," she added. "Ordinarily this is a pretty dead time for them, but here they took the opportunity to be centre stage."
That reached its apogee the evening before the official announcement of the transfer when Adidas' official Twitter account appeared to leak a music video featuring Stormzy rapping and Pogba dancing in a United kit; this was viewed 6m times before the day ended.
"I don't think this will be a one-off," said Semens. "It will certainly have given other brands and clubs ideas", although she acknowledged that the size of the fee was a significant factor in the success of this particular activation.
Its timing also raises questions about how big a say brands like Adidas now have in player recruitment at clubs.
"There are a number of key stakeholders involved in any transfer process now," Semens said.
"Though a sponsor is unlikely to have the final say in transfer deals, the relationships they have with the parties in a deal can help to facilitate conversations."
Data sourced from SportsPro; additional content by Warc staff