CAMPAIGNS: SPONSORSHIP; Naz knocks out media in Adidas

Client: Adidas PR Team: Hill and Knowlton Campaign: Launch of Prince Naseem sponsorship Timescale: May 1996 Budget: pounds 50,000

Client: Adidas

PR Team: Hill and Knowlton

Campaign: Launch of Prince Naseem sponsorship

Timescale: May 1996

Budget: pounds 50,000

Earlier this year Adidas struck a sponsorship deal with undefeated

professional boxer and youth icon Prince Naseem Hamed. It asked its

agency Hill and Knowlton to create a launch event in keeping with the

scale of the partnership, which has been reported as worth between

pounds 5 and pounds 7 million to the pugilist.


To link Naseem to Adidas and position the brand in the youth market.

Also, to communicate the special emphasis Adidas attaches to sponsorship

and underscore the company’s heritage in boxing - it has sponsored many

famous names in the sport including Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. By

joining such select company, Naseem could also be positioned as a future

‘sporting legend’.


The sponsorship was kept under wraps while a theme for the campaign was

developed. Naseem is known for wearing leopard skin print apparel (would

you have the courage to tell him it looks absurd?) so it was decided to

incorporate the Adidas branding on gear of this sort and use the

campaign theme ‘Leopard changes his three stripes.’

The launch was held at the hip Brixton Academy in south London, chosen

as it fitted in with the boxer’s youth appeal. A boxing ring was erected

at the venue with press seating at its side. The media were not given

full details of the announcement prior to the event.

A three-minute film opened proceedings, followed by a choreographed

dance routine performed by dancers clad in Adidas boxing wear. To add to

the spectacle, Naseem then appeared through a trapdoor in the boxing

ring and shadow-boxed before the assembled media to the accompaniment of

pounding music and indoor pyrotechnics.

Thereafter, TV personality Normski acted as MC and the media was given

access to the fighter. Creative photography and leopard-print press

packs were made available.

‘It was a big launch and a lot more glitzy than most launches,’ says H&K

account director Dan Holliday. ‘But it had to be because Naseem is not

only a great sportsman but a great showman. It was important that the

event reflected that.’


The national tabloids gave the sponsorship announcement significant

coverage on the day after the event, most with Adidas branding featuring

prominently in the pictures they ran of the boxer. There were 24

features in the regional press and broadcast coverage on GMTV, Sky

Sports, Sky News, Live TV, Channel One and Capital Radio.

‘We had massive coverage in the tabloids,’ says Adidas UK and Ireland

managing director Bob McCulloch. ‘You couldn’t do better, to be honest.’


The combination of a big money sponsorship deal, an extravagant and

slickly stage- managed launch and Naseem’s larger-than-life personality

ensured knock-out media coverage. Events like this don’t come cheap, but

every indication is that it was money well spent.

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