Workshops on how to make a look book, tattooing and art prints — it’s not the typical fare surrounding a shoe launch, but Adidas is beefing up what it’s calling an overinvestment in six key cities to achieve its 2020 business goals.
To that end, when the company unveiled its Adidas Originals Deerupt silhouette last week (public release slated for March 22), the rollout activity for the shoe — which taps a grid design popularized by the brand’s Eighties marathon trainer — was far from conventional. The launch events focused on Paris and Los Angeles, kicking off at the Louvre Carousel with a dinner that included a keynote from senior vice president of global creative Nic Galway. That was followed by a series of classes, including an embroidery and print lab from Bureau Berger, a how-to on making look books steered by Paul & Martin and a tattoo class from artist Leo Gavaggio. The celebration moved to downtown Los Angeles this past weekend for workshops and an experiential set of exhibitions and dance performances looking to up the ante on social media moments that played up the Deerupt’s grid pattern.
“With Deerupt, we really wanted to open up to the community and I think in general today we live in this world where, as a brand, we don’t want to just be talking at people, but we really want to connect,” Galway said. “By having events like this, we invite the community in.”
Even details such as how the shoe was photographed for marketing purposes essentially opened the brand up to popular culture, with the shoe pictured on the wearer with the toe down — mimicking a behavior that originated on Instagram.
Instagram, as Galway put it, is “where culture decides.” He recalled conversations with some of the company’s collaborators who talked about being able to more carefully control their image in the past. “Today, they can’t. They’re having to think so differently and that the most important camera in the rooms is whoever is posting and that’s true for the products we create as well,” Galway said. “Traditionally you photograph a shoe from the left side on. Consumers don’t do that. That’s really changed all of our thought processes right down to how we create shoes.”
The design behind Deerupt romanticizes urban planning and architecture among other things with the shoe’s most prominent feature being the netting covering the upper, with the Solar Bird — a mix of bright red and blue — the first colorway set for release, with additional options to be rolled out throughout the year.
Paris and Los Angeles are among the key cities where Adidas is ramping up its marketing activities, in addition to New York, London, Shanghai and Tokyo as part of its 2020 Global Strategic Business Plan, dubbed “Creating the New.”
“Our strategy in these key cities is essential to connect the brand with culture, which is at the core of everything we do,” said Torben Schumacher, Adidas Originals general manager. “By bringing experiences to life in cultural hubs like Paris and Los Angeles, we are able to reach our consumers in a way that feels authentically Originals.”
The company’s 747 Warehouse event during the All-Star Game Weekend in February at the former American Apparel factory in downtown L.A. was perhaps the best expression of what these tactics look like on a large scale and fall in line with the theme of accessibility to the consumer. Attendees, for starters, didn’t pay to gain access to 747 Warehouse; it was open to anyone based on a raffling system. Adidas took over portions of the actual factory for guided tours that exposed attendees to various aspects of the brand — from technology to sustainability and design — in addition to offering access to its mobile Sound Lab recording studio for demo sessions, an on-site customization lab to build their own shoe and performances from N.E.R.D. and Snoop Dogg, among others.
“I think we just need to tell our brand story a little better and that’s what we are trying to do in this warehouse,” Niels Rossow, Adidas former head of key cities in North America, told WWD at the time of 747 Warehouse. “It’s about giving a better understanding and creating an experience that the kids can relate to. It’s a historical thing that we are not as strong as in Europe.”
Adidas no doubt wants to change that. Rossow pointed to his time working for the company in Russia for the sake of comparison.
“We had a market share of 60 percent and Nike had a share of 8 percent,” Rossow said, reflecting on his time overseas. “So I come here and I’m seeing a little bit of a difference — us being the small ones and the challengers — but being the small ones and being the challengers also gives us a certain dynamic so you can act fast and you can try new things. That’s what we want to do.”