The brand is an official licensee and sponsor of the World Cup. It provides the official game ball as well as footwear for 150 players including the UK’s David Beckham. Its current ad campaign includes eight television spots in addition to print, features internationally known soccer players and addresses the conveniently created disease of “footballitis.” The symptoms include soccer maniacs’ obsessions for statistics, face painting and instantaneous display of joy or tears. The message Adidas has successfully communicated, according to the company: “Regardless of the geography, the story is the same; everyone has World Cup fever and Soccer Never Felt Better.”
“We've been able to tap into this "Footballitis" with our campaign and bring to life in a humorous way how soccer maniacs, players and fans, come together for four weeks every four years and are utterly consumed with the World Cup,” says Adidas America brand marketing manager Simon Atkins. “With so many interesting results and performances to date and buzz that has come with the unexpected, we've seen our campaign truly resonate with an audience larger than the soccer fan.”
Adidas has taken an aggressive approach to online marketing as well. It is the presenting sponsor of ESPN.com's 2002 World Cup website. The ESPN.com marketing campaign is Adidas America’s largest online advertising commitment to date. The sponsorship provides brand content integration and rich advertising ad units throughout ESPN's network, which includes ESPN.com, Soccernet.com, and ESPNdeportes.com. dkljkdldkl says the brand may invest more heavily online due to the unexpected popularity of the tournament.
“We're investing heavily into all our activities around the World Cup - from our "Footballitis" advertising / media spend with ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, online partnership with ESPN.com,” says Atkins. “With the increase in interest specifically within the U.S. we anticipate an increase in numbers and breadth of consumers interacting with our World Cup advertising and activities.”
Those activities include grassroots marketing. Brand-soccer clinics are running in Dallas, Chicago, Boston and Washington D.C. The “Free to be a World Cup Maniac Festival” will be held in Los Angeles this weekend. The festival will include a youth soccer tournament and “the million-dollar kick.” Adidas and LA radio station KIIS FM will draw one winner from six radio pre-qualifiers, to kick into the goal for a million dollars.