Adidas CGM Effort Brings Flood of Engagement

Over 30 international athletes, armed with magic markers and a story to tell, joined with Adidas this past spring to refresh the sports outfitter’s “Impossible is Nothing” campaign. Ads showed sports stars like U.K. soccer import David Beckham, basketball star Gilbert Arenas, and rugby legend Jonah Lomu illustrating challenges they’ve overcome.

Adidas and creative agency Isobar determined the campaign would lend itself well to a social media extension where Web users could describe hurdles they’ve overcome in their own lives. The goal: to drive brand engagement by getting customers creatively involved with Adidas.

Adidas tapped Web site and widget marketing platform Freewebs to develop the app, which took the form of a virtual mosaic wall. Site visitors were asked to submit in their own words a story of a personal hurdle already achieved, and how they were able to surmount it. “You can prove that the impossible is possible,” Adidas said in the submission form.

The campaign targeted men and women ages 18 to 35 and ran for about two months, spanning May and June. It was housed on the site, and submissions were displayed on a virtual white brick wall. Each story was represented by a photo, sketch or other graphic appearing on the wall in a mosaic pattern. By dragging their mouse over the wall, users could view other testimonials, including those of Adidas’s spokespeople. Indeed, the format replicated the aesthetic of the TV spots, in which Beckham and other athletes used a marker and a board to draw images of their accomplishments.

Freewebs also created a widget component to provide more traction to the campaign, allowing users to syndicate the mosaic wall to their blog or social networking profile. Chris Cunningham, VP of global sales at Freewebs, said the campaign was Isobar’s first time working with widgets, though between the agency and client, “They are a company that understands the power and virality of widgets.”

Additionally, the campaign was partly noteworthy for what it did not do. While many consumer-generated media campaigns tout prizes or sweepstakes, “Impossible” chose not to dangle an award over the campaign.

“We didn’t need a sweepstakes because the campaign was very from the heart,” Cunningham said. “It would have taken away from the authenticity.”

At the end of the two-month duration of the campaign, the mosaic wall had been populated with stories from people all over the world. Cunningham said the wall had tens of thousands of submissions, and hundreds of thousands of views.

“At the core of the campaign, about 70 percent of users were Freewebs [visitors],” Cunningham said, adding the widget feature amplified the reach. “Between 30 and 40 percent were people visiting those Web sites with widgets.”

In addition to getting visitors to engage with the Adidas through the CGM initiative, the brand saw an additional degree of traction in the form of traffic back to the Adidas Web site, said Cunningham.

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