Adidas is using “dark social” to gain the edge on competitors
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Adidas is using “dark social” to gain the edge on competitors

Sporting footwear giant Adidas is rethinking its marketing in an effort to engage with consumers and stay ahead of rivals like even-bigger competitor Nike. The company is using something it calls “dark social” to build a community around its football products – by far its largest segment – as well as launching its first app and refreshing an ad strategy it now considers “outdated”. A few days ago, vice-president of global brand communication for Adidas’s football business, Florian Alt, explained how the company’s new marketing strategy works.

Adidas’s share price has appreciated by 16% so far this year

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Source: Yahoo Finance

Alt, who describes himself as a football fanatic and an Adidas “life-timer”, joined the company 20 years ago. Today, he says the company’s new strategy is vital to his role, and the brand’s continued success. He told reporters:

“I have grown up with the three stripes. My dad worked at the company so I never wore any other sports gear and it’s on the doorstep of the city where I come from. And I truly believe in what the brand wants to stand for. The belief of sport having the power to change lives.”

He thinks dark social is the key. Dark social is a relatively recent innovation in marketing. It describes internet footfall that is difficult – or impossible – to trace. Most online traffic is pretty straightforward: you share a link in an advert or an article, it takes a user to your social media where they can engage with the brand and make a purchase. Everything is easy to follow. Dark social is anything that doesn’t fit neatly into a journey like that one – and increasingly, it means that customers are sharing links and conversations in “hidden” parts of the internet, like messaging apps. Such activity sends a massive amount of traffic around the net – but it’s practically untraceable.

The trick to making the most of dark social is basically becoming the kind of brand that consumers want to talk about in messenger apps, the kind of brand that embodies the core beliefs its fans signed up to champion, and the kind of brand (importantly) that uses private messaging itself. The brand accomplishes the latter through its “Tango Squad” platform.

Check out episode one of Tango Squad F.C. below


Alt says: “We have to be a profitable organisation but there is also the expectation from our leaders to change a little bit for the greater good of the world and the planet. You also see this with the target audiences. They have a desire to trust brands that really stand for something more and they are able to see through if a brand means something serious or not. With all the information and insights they have these days, it’s very hard to tell them something or sell them something that’s not true.”

So far, the strategy seems to paying off: according to Kantar Millward Brown’s BrandZ report, Adidas’s brand value rose by a massive 50% in 2018 to $12.5 billion, letting it crack the top 100 for the first time.

Dominion holds Adidas in its Global Trends Luxury Fund.

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