Sport/Fashion: Adidas opts to go underground

Adidas hired John Doe to promote two special events it had set up as part of its Adidas Underground series of events associated with the London 2012 Olympics. John Doe had to generate media coverage during a saturated cultural period.

Drawing in the big names: The event attracted musical and sporting talent
Drawing in the big names: The event attracted musical and sporting talent

Campaign: Adidas Underground
Client: Adidas
PR teams: John Doe; Adidas' in-house team
Timescale: July-August 2012
Budget: £15,000



  •  To demonstrate the sport/style take on celebrating London during the London 2012 Olympic Games
  •  To transfer Adidas Originals from the sports pages to the lifestyle and mainstream media
  •  To offer an antidote to large-scale commercial Olympic activities in and around London.

Strategy and plan

Adidas' in-house marketing team launched a series of live consumer events produced by Sparklestreet Productions during the London 2012 Olympics, to create an 'off schedule' experience. The sports brand took over Village Underground, an east London venue.

The premiere of The Chemical Brothers' Don't Think film, the first event in the series, featured a live performance from the band. The experience was tied back to Adidas by giving attendees an Adidas Originals Firebird tracktop and painting their faces with an iconic image from the film.

Attendees included Matt Smith, Jaime Winstone, Rosamund Pike and Plan B, which generated media coverage.

The second event was a private gig by The Stone Roses, which was their first London show in more than 15 years. The team kept the event secret until the day to generate hype and surprise, and invited high-profile music and fashion guests including Paul Weller, Jimmy Page, Miles Kane, Wretch 32, Bobby Gillespie, Maverick Sabre and Daisy Lowe. Adidas-affiliated Olympic athletes also attended the event, including Pete Reed, Tim Baillie, Etienne Stott and David Florence, as well as gold medallists Jessica Ennis and Bradley Wiggins.

The team worked to secure branded 'Olympic' and Adidas Originals coverage across national media by focusing on the sports and music talent attending its events.

This included a one-off photograph of The Stone Roses with Ennis and Wiggins that was seeded to press alongside branding board images of VIP arrivals.

Measurement and evaluation

The events were featured in 95 articles outside of sport-focused media and across print and online mainstream news titles.

This included double-page spreads in The Sun, Sunday Mirror, Daily Star and Daily Mail, and posts on Mail Online, The Guardian, ITV, Huffington Post and Yahoo, as well as all the lifestyle target titles including NME, Cosmopolitan, Vogue and GQ.

The campaign secured 288 per cent more coverage than the set media target.


More than 1,100 people attended the events during the two days and the brand's UK social media following rose by 25 per cent.

There was an 82 per cent rise in footfall in the Adidas flagship store, while online sales rose by 62 per cent.



This was a great campaign by an iconic brand. Executed brilliantly, it remained true to the objectives, taking Adidas out of traditional sports pages into lifestyle and mainstream media.

At the same time it blended together sport and style in a credible and engaging way.

Underground events can be difficult to amplify, as they require many ingredients to work together at the same time to be truly successful. This became even more challenging during the Olympic period as many brands were competing to stand out.

With the use of unique creative ideas, Adidas Underground secured cut-through in a crowded market. The real champion was the pictorial element, which highlighted how images can define a brand and create an emotional connection with the audience.

Adidas blended its sports and lifestyle heritage with creative arts, resulting in the two highly anticipated 'money can't buy' events. In a nutshell, the campaign captured the essence of an amazing celebration of sport and style in London at an historic time.

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