How adidas builds close experiences and partnerships

How adidas builds close experiences and partnerships

Erika Wykes-Sneyd, Vice President of Global Marketing for Adidas, at the DPAA World Summit in New York. Photo: DPAA.

Over the past two years, popular footwear brand adidas has been establishing a close presence by collaborating with technology partners and creators and also rolling out their own NFT.

These efforts are led by Erica Wakes-Snead, who spoke about the brand’s journey at the recent DPAA World Summit. She has experience in Fintech and Game Technology at PlayStation, Venmo and Uber.

Here are the steps adidas has taken so far.

Building a metaverse ready team

Adidas began its metaverse journey in February of 2021. Tesla’s Elon Musk had just tweeted that his company would accept payments for cars in bitcoin. This has boosted the credibility of the cryptocurrency, as well as supporting the blockchain technology that governs transactions in the Web3. If more users are going to collect and flaunt blockchain-based NFTs, this is a place where brands should participate as well.

Wykes-Sneyd started a metaverse team that allows anyone within the organization to share and contribute ideas.

“I immediately found a lot of enthusiastic individuals in the organization who were really thinking about the space,” she said, adding that they were “front line workers,” not in the C suite or the IT department. They were people who, during pandemic lockdowns, spend more time participating in web3 projects side by side, mostly on Discord.

Of the 55 people who initially expressed interest in the company chain email, Wykes-Sneyd created a 22-person team that included employees across the organization.

Then the working group members were invited to brainstorm.

“We found the opportunities and talent pools that were present in the organization,” said Wykes Snead.

Using these insights, Wykes-Sneyd developed the go-to-market strategy with the same foundations in consumer and category research it uses with other product launches. The difference in this case, she said, is that it is an upward process involving people from all levels of the organization.

“I bring the people who live it on a daily basis,” she said. “It will not come from top to bottom.”

Choose partners carefully

“There are a lot of different ways to get into this space, but you could say that ours comes with more risks because we put the NFT on the blockchain and now we have to serve this community forever, until we decide we’re not going to go do that anymore,” Wakes Snead said.

With younger consumers moving from social media platforms to Discord virtual 3D gaming platforms like Roblox, adidas wanted to make sure they had a real and reliable presence in front of the Web 3 audience.

Adidas has dropped the NFT allowing users who purchased it to be part of a private club of like-minded adidas fans.

They have partnered with a well-known pioneer in the crypto space, GMoney. For better or worse, they also partnered with Bored Ape Yacht Club, an Ethereum-based NFT association – well known in the community and recently investigated by the SEC. Adidas has also participated in brand placements on NFT-based comics created by PUNKS Comics.

“It’s really hard for marketers to find ways to be culturally credible, authentic, and organic, and so it will be the emergence of these small communities where smart and intelligent marketers will emerge next,” said Wykes Snead.

Digging deeper: How Carrie shoes from Under Armor are taking off in the metaverse

Create a roadmap

Building a cultural currency with a skeptical audience that requires authenticity requires a long-term game plan.

Each partnership created by adidas brings more exposure to Web 3 users and demonstrates the brand’s commitment to the space.

Each step of the journey brings the brand closer to selling real merchandise, virtual wearables and tokens through 3 web channels. The plan is for Adidas to generate secondary revenue on merchandise by including an NFT with each individual item sold. When pairs of Adidas shoes are resold, the NFT blockchain will record that transaction. Embedded into the blockchain will be an agreement that gives Adidas a portion of those secondary sales.

But whether it’s a physical commodity, or virtual wearables for avatars, the goal is for consumers to be able to showcase their brand affinity wherever they are.

“Identity is the next big thing to explore,” said Wykes Snead. “How would you like to get to know your virtual world? How would that identification appear? What do you want it to be? What is your nickname, what kind of traits do you want?”

She added, “There is real hope in space. Please don’t get bogged down in negativity. Start looking back, because once you do, you’ll be more open to the opportunities that this young generation is looking for. And they’re going to make it happen with or without us. So, I’d like to I say we want to be with them.”


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About the author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as Associate Editor, providing original analysis on the evolving marketing technology landscape. He has interviewed leaders in technology and politics, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, whom Barack Obama appointed as the country’s first federal information director. He is particularly interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are affecting the world of marketing as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a seminar on “Theater of Innovation” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his reporting focusing on marketing in industry trades such as Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age, and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes to fiction, criticism, and poetry on several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Lives in New York.

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