CANNES: adidas believes its positioning as the "creator" brand can serve as a connection point to its history, help it stand out in a competitive marketplace, and also fuel cutting-edge innovation.
Eric Liedtke, Executive Board member with responsibility for Global Brands at adidas, discussed this topic at the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity – and focused on a transformation effort which began two years ago.
"We've been working diligently not on re-doing our brand, but resetting our brand. I think it's important to think in those turnaround type of terms," he said. (For more details of this shift in approach, read Warc's exclusive report: adidas "resets" its brand strategy.)
More specifically, he suggested that the brand was looking to draw on its long history, while also aiming to drive innovation across the organisation.
"This is really what we see ourselves as: We believe we are the creator brand," said Liedtke. "Our founder Adi Dassler … was a cobbler. And he invented the sporting goods industry. He created the industry that we now play in.
"So 'creator' as a positioning is not just rich to who we are today in a very crowded marketplace; it's authentic to who we've always been."
Elaborating on how this positioning works in practice, he could point to a high-profile tie-up with rapper Kanye West, which has resulted in the hugely popular "Yeezy Boost" line of footwear released under the adidas Originals brand.
"When we work each and every day as a creator … we define it as people that are shaping the future, defining what's real, defining what's next," said Liedtke.
Similar thinking has informed its approach to sporting partnerships, too: "If you're into sports … you talk about the way people play the game; you look at different athletes and how they contribute; and you look to associate yourself with those things," he continued.
One example of this is adidas's relationship with Paul Pogba, the French soccer player who is an influencer both on and off the pitch.
"He changes his hair every game. He tries to define what's next on the field, but also on his style and to his culture. And that, again, has social capacity. That is something that goes out there and has weight," Liedtke said.
Data sourced from Warc