As Nicholas Ind, Oriol Iglesias, and Majken Schultz wrote in strategy + business, Adi Dassler, a cobbler by training and a keen sportsman observed athletes, talked to them about their needs and then experimented with novel ways of solving their problems. Dassler engaged an iterative process that relied on prototyping and testing and evolving production innovations.
Dassler acquired his first patent on a pair of running shoes in 1925, and three years later, a runner wearing his shoes won an Olympic gold. In 1936, Jesse Owens won four gold medals in Dassler’s shoes.
During Adi Dassler’s lifetime, his company, adidas continued to expand and develop new markets and sports. But the company always united by Adi’s belief in “only the best for the athlete” and his philosophy of industrialized craftsmanship created a stream of innovative products.
Today, the value of authenticity and a deep understanding of the brand also extend into innovative partnerships. adidas selects partners largely by their potential for alignment with the values and philosophy of the company.
Radical designs have opened new audiences and sales channels while encouraging adidas’s designers to be more adventurous.
As Steve Vincent, Senior Vice President of adidas future, says, “That’s the challenge—to do completely disruptive things that no one ‘s ever seen or expected but still feel like they should come from this brand.”
Along comes PARLEY FOR THE OCEANS, an organization dedicated to reducing plastic waste in oceans. Parley’s collaboration with adidas designers led to a 3D-printed concept shoe made out of recycled ocean plastic.
“The new shoe design rethinks the environmental impact of materials to help stop ocean plastic pollution,” according to adidas.
Among others, this collaboration will accelerate the integration of materials made of ocean plastic waste into adidas products as of 2016.
The true impact of a sustainable future for the adidas brand comes from a long-held mindset of product innovation, a strong embrace of innovative partnerships, and today, helping marine life and showing the world how to shed its throwaway mentality.
Adi Dassler would be pleased that the adidas brand is leading the reduction of plastic pollution in the ocean with a genuine partnership while serving the most competitive athletes in the world.
However a compelling story, adidas misses an opportunity to effect greater brand distinction and engagement.
Jim Signorelli, president at Story-Lab U.S. observes, “adidas is making great strides towards becoming a StoryBrand. However, they need to link together the chapters of their story so that a single-minded truth becomes more evident.”
He adds, “Their latest commercial, featuring James Harden, makes a strong and compelling case for the notion that “Creators Never Follow.” However, a story’s theme is proven through its plot. We need to see that adidas is walking its talk. Every brand in the sportswear category innovates. But innovating in ways that support the sustainability of marine life? That’s the kind of stand-out proof that tells the adidas story convincingly.”
Jim Signorelli and I hope our message resonates with adidas. We want to help adidas enter a higher sphere of storybranding and brand advocacy. We think more athletes would engage the adidas/PARLEY solution if they knew what we know.
References: Strategy + Business writers, Nicholas Ind, Oslo School of Management, Oriol Inglesas, associate professor at ESADE, Business School in Barcelona and director of the ESADE Brand Institute, and Majken Schultz, professor at Copenhagen Business School. adidas Partners to Help End Ocean Destruction, Releases Sustainability Progress Report, by Sustainable Brands. adidas and Parley Oceans Partnership Aims end Plastic Pollution Oceans. NYC NEWS.
Note:The adidas brand name in lower case was used correctly throughout the blog.