NEW YORK: adidas, the sporting-goods group, has shown how brands can effectively "crash the party" by generating major traction at the NFL Scouting Combine in each of the last four years, despite not being an official sponsor of the event.

Jeremy Darlow – Director/Brand Marketing for Football and Baseball at adidas – discussed this topic at the 2016 Brand Strategy Conference held by the Global Strategic Management Institute (GSMI) in New York City.

"The idea is: It's easier to crash a party than it is to throw a party," he said. (To see more tips for brands seeking to achieve this goal, read Warc's exclusive report: How adidas crashed the NFL Scouting Combine.)

"The party to me, the way that I define it, is an event or moment of mass scale. And the most important thing in this definition is the mass scale."

For adidas, the latest iteration of this principle came at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, where National Football League teams put top collegiate prospects through a series of fitness tests.

More specifically, it offered a $1m prize to any competitor who broke the record for the 40-yard dash – currently standing at 4.24-seconds – while wearing its "adizero 5-star 40" cleat during the 2016 event.

This initiative follows on from similar activations over the three preceding years, where the brand offered the fastest dashers various incentives – from cash prizes to shoe contracts – for hitting certain speed-related targets in its cleats.

"We've been the most talked-about brand at the NFL Combine for three years in a row – four years in a row, if you count the first year on the shoe deal," Darlow said.

Under Armour is the NFL Scouting Combine's official partner, but Darlow suggested adidas's guerrilla marketing efforts have mirrored its brand emphasis on speed in the football space, while also tapping a natural high-point in fan interest.

"The most talked-about moment within this event is the 40-yard dash," he continued. "I need to get people to stop thinking about what's going on on-screen and start talking about my brand.

"And the only way to do that is if I do something completely unexpected, and something that makes them want to tell their friends."

Data sourced from Warc