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Published on April 28th, 2011 | by Éilish Burke


Ad Nauseam: Just Do It

Okay, so I’ve been a bit of a grouch over the past few weeks, railing against ads for biscuits and telephone companies and the like, so this week I want to dust off all that negativity and start off with an ad that is so brilliant it quite literally gave me goosebumps.

Yes dear readers this week we shall be mostly looking at ads for sports brands. Of course it’s no wonder that these companies can produce amazing ads; they have deep pockets from which to stump up for hotshot directors, music rights and celebrity endorsements. Pity the poor local advertiser who has their meagrely-financed ad placed beside the celeb-packed roller-coaster ride that is this Adidas commercial. I saw it in the cinema last week in its full two-minute-long glory and it was a spine tingling experience alone worth the movie entrance fee (though I recommend the film I saw too; Limitless, it’s really rather good). Adidas have pulled out all the stops here. Helped along by a banging soundtrack from Daft Punk pretenders Justice and directed by Romain Gavras (who most notably directed the controversial video for M.I.A.’s Born Free) it’s surely an ad of the year contender.

What the Adidas ad does so well is to seamlessly meld the world of professional sport with the world of entertainment; we see Perry as much as we see Messi here. And this fusion is no coincidence; it reflects Adidas’s positioning not just as sports wear but as a brand expanding their market and reaching into the world of fashion. Because let’s face it, there are more people out socialising than there are out running marathons and Adidas want to make clothes for those people too.

They’re not the only ones. Puma were once a brand for the more discerning sportsperson (sort of like the Lacoste to Adidas’s United Colors of Benetton) but now, according to their website at least, Puma are a Sportlifestyle brand. And they’re steadily ratcheting up their efforts to gain as much popularity off the field as on. Their current campaign ‘Puma Social’ dials this up. It celebrates the “after hours athlete” – those of us more likely to equate post-exercise rehydration with a cold beer after an hour on the dancefloor. To my knowledge the TV ad for this campaign (below) isn’t being aired in Ireland but you’ve probably seen posters around the place; they feature hot pink neon signs and hipster ping-pong players.

It’s a new insight, this “after hours athlete” business and, to be fair, it’s a good one. The ads are beautifully shot too. But my cynical side bristles at the sheer amount of hipsterdom here. I wish it captured a little bit more of the soul and grit you feel when you watch the Adidas commercial. Perhaps it’s the voiceover that tips it over the edge for me; it’s straight out of The Shawshank Redemption and takes itself far too seriously “the night too is for sport, and they are the champions”. Indeed.

Nike have been less interested in capturing the hipster element than either Adidas or Puma. That’s not to say they haven’t done some interesting things in the past, but rather than focus on nightlife and entertainment, they concentrate squarely on sport as the hook for their advertising. Take their Nike+ Original Run series in 2006 in which they commissioned a number of high profile musicians to compose the perfect audio accompaniment for the running enthusiast. With installations from the likes of LCD Soundsystem (below), De La Soul and A-Trak it’s a clever way to associate with music while still maintaining the essence of what the brand is about.
Lcd soundsystem – 45 33 One +Two by II-_-II

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About the Author

Éilish writes the Ad Nauseam series of posts for Culch.ie as well as some other bit and bobs. She used to work in adland and still likes to dissect the advertising she comes across, though these days mainly from the comfort of her couch and in the form of angry tirades while her flatmate rolls her eyes to heaven. She secretly harbours smug feelings that instead of saving and putting a deposit on a house she spent all her life savings on extravagant holidays and has therefore escaped a lifetime in negative equity. She co-runs a company called Amp Music Marketing. You can get in touch with her at eilishburke{at}gmail{dot}com or follow her on Twitter.

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