In May 1996, Adidas signed up undefeated WBO featherweight
champion, Prince Naseem Hamed in a major sponsorship deal. In December,
it asked Hill and Knowlton, to come up with a fresh idea to publicise
the sponsorship to a wider lifestyle audience. H&K hit on the idea of an
The Art of Boxing Exhibition was set for 13 to 18 June 1997, at the Arts
Depot in Kings Cross - the first purpose-built gym in the country.
To promote Adidas as a contemporary brand to the target 12-24 year-old
market, by showcasing Prince Naseem in a ’style-led environment’. In
addition, it was important to create a credible exhibition of boxing
art, to show Adidas’ heritage and authenticity in sport to mainstream
At the end of January 1997, H&K brought curator James
Huntington-Whiteley on board. Respected within the art world, he also
worked on football exhibition ’England’s Glory’ during Euro 96.
In conjunction with Huntington-Whiteley, H&K negotiated with boxing
promoter Frank Warren to exhibit a large selection of fine art from his
personal collection. And Adidas provided exhibits such as Muhammad Ali’s
boots from its HQ in Germany. A boxing ring formed part of the entrance
and a cinema, Naseem interactive computer games and a boxercise
instructor provided other areas of interest.
One corner of the exhibition was devoted entirely to the ’Prince’, with
gloves, shorts, photography, a bronze statue and a specially
commissioned portrait, by up and coming artist Andrew Crocker.
H&K hosted an exclusive opening night preview with Prince Naseem,
celebrities such as Bob Geldof, football agent Eric ’Monster’ Hall and
specially invited members of the media.
Over 1,000 people visited the exhibition and 400 celebrities and
journalists attended the opening night preview.
Negotiated by H&K in April, a three-page feature on Warren, his art
collection and the exhibition appeared in Observer Life on 15 June.
Additional press coverage ranged from the Financial Times and the Young
Telegraph to Dazed and Confused and Trace magazines.
Broadcast items included the Big Breakfast, and Sky Sports, while Virgin
Radio and Choice FM ran competitions to win tickets to the preview
The different elements of this exhibition helped gain wide ranging media
interest from the Sun to Art Review. It also successfully focused
attention on Adidas’ relationship with Prince Naseem.
At first glance, 1,000 visitors over six days to a free exhibition might
seem disappointing. However, Robin Money, head of corporate relations at
Adidas was pleased with the event. He says: ’Due to its success, we are
considering running another exhibition of this kind with our other key
PR Team: Hill and Knowlton
Campaign: The Art of Boxing Exhibition
Timescale: December 1996 - June 1997
Cost: pounds 75,000