Social media giant, Facebook may have originally shelved the idea of ads on the popular messaging platform, WhatsApp, but Adidas is still steaming ahead at full speed with its plan to turn the app into a key marketing tool.
The streetwear fashion brand, Adidas has collectively been utilising the mobile messaging app, WhatsApp to chat directly with its regular customers since back in 2015. At the time, WhatsApp was seen as a smaller-scale company that was growing rapidly. Naturally, the company’s marketers took advantage of the rapid success and used WhatsApp as a way to build hyper-local communities in cities across the world, making it easier to connect the brand directly to its consumers. Now, it’s being used as the main platform for global campaigns.
“It’s allowed us to build direct relationships with a smaller community of influential people in an ongoing way that doesn’t feel transactional and allows for a conversation, rather than just a broadcast,” said Laura Coveney, managing editor for Adidas in a statement.
As a more recent example of this marketing strategy, early last month, Adidas opened up a hotline on WhatsApp for people in need of a football player that would be available (and skilled enough) to cover for unreliable teammates on their incomplete teams. During the campaign, Adidas-sponsored players were made available for games last week once fans had shared some basic information with the hotline. After receiving the details, the company’s marketers would then proceed to notify fans on the morning of their game if their request was found successful.
“We know our audience use it to share fixture info, team selection — and team-mates messaging to find last-minute replacements,” said Coveney. “WhatsApp was perfect for the more functional elements of the ‘Rent-a-Pred’ hotline as it allowed consumers to share private information one-to-one with us for review, before being allocated a Predator player near them.”
The brand also experimented with other campaigns. As part of adidas’ global #WeRepresent campaign, the brand also took lead and proudly launched a new collection of VRCT jackets in India. These new jackets are quickly becoming iconic varsity jackets among youth with their unique design which shows the symbol of what different people stand for in society. During the campaign, the brand stated that they believe in self expression, and the fact that it is our unique life experiences that represent us as a whole.
To create buzz about the VRCT jackets in India, adidas launched a campaign in partnership with LBB, which used WhatsApp marketing in a unique and fun way. Brands have been struggling with using WhatsApp as a medium to engage with their users and no one has really cracked a solution yet. However, this fun approach by adidas ensured that the WhatsApp community was thoroughly engaged. In its short time present, the campaign saw more than 10,000 entries in just 10 days total.
Despite Facebook’s decision to scrap plans to run ads on WhatsApp, advertisers like Adidas continue to build a recognisable presence there.
So how exactly did they do it? Marketers for Adidas used WhatsApp as a tool to send direct messages to its community, which is essentially a group of young footballers across 15 key cities worldwide who were given exclusive access to new drops before anyone else, and the groups were between 100 and 250 people.
For its smart marketing, the Adidas brand made it into the top 100 global brands for the first time in 2018, according to Kantar Millward Brown’s BrandZ report. Its value was additionally up 50% year on year to $12.5bn (USD) and is still growing month to month.