CANNES: Operating as a “brand in beta” has yielded major benefits in terms of relevance, consumer engagement and driving sales for adidas, the sporting and lifestyle goods manufacturer.

Paul Gaudio, Global Creative Director at adidas, discussed this subject during a session at the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

More specifically, he asserted that its brand playbook is constantly being revised and refreshed, rather than becoming a fixed formula for developing, launching and marketing products.

“We firmly believe this idea that we are a ‘brand in beta’. We are never finished,” said Gaudio. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Why adidas wants to be a “brand in beta”.)

Building on this theme, he suggested that adidas’ strategy borrows from players in the technology sector, which typically roll out innovations on an on-going basis – and frequently make code available for other experts to modify and improve.

“This idea of open source [and being a] brand in beta: We've appropriated them from the software world. But they're really relevant, because they really describe the way we think and act,” Gaudio said.

As evidence, he cited the “adidas Originals by Alexander Wang” streetwear range that was unveiled last year during New York Fashion Week – and was sold from trash bags carried around the Big Apple in branded trucks.

This playful take on the rise of resellers in the fashion industry was promoted with a cryptic campaign that featured posters showing verbatim email exchanges between the brand and Wang, with the exact contact details blacked out.

Leaflets were also distributed throughout the city, and simply contained a phone number printed the wrong way round, plus a date, and several addresses in New York City and Brooklyn – but without details about what would take place there.

This activation, for Gaudio, reflected adidas’ objective of operating in beta – and resulted in the collection developed with Alexander Wang selling out rapidly.

“We could be this monolithic brand that follows a strict set of guidelines that we define. But that, I don't think, would resonate, and that's not who we want to be,” he said.

“The idea that things are not perfect, not polished, not precious is something that is core to how we work, and how we think.”

Data sourced from WARC