adidas SG brings back early years of the Internet with forum-like microsite

Sports apparel brand adidas is bringing back a blast from the past with a forum-like microsite, playing up nostalgia for the youth, as it launches its Forum Fall/Winter 2021 collection. The adidas Forum is a basketball shoe first introduced by the brand in the 1980s that according to the brand, represents “an open invitation for aesthetic self-expression”. Therefore, in collaboration with communications agency Light Years, adidas unveiled “The Forum”.

Inspired by forums and pinboards of the early Internet years, the microsite structurally mimics early internet forum pages with message boards on which users are encouraged to leave a “Forum Post” to share ideas. The agency’s spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that The Forum was conceptualised based on the global direction of the campaign to “celebrate the cultural leaders who are redefining the style of tomorrow”.

Tasked with positioning the Forum shoe as a footwear of choice for Gen Z with a lean towards women, The Forum also aided to the digital-only launch strategy the brand took due to the pandemic. The Forum site will be online until the end of year with a sustenance piece coming in Q4, said the spokesperson, adding that the agency conducted researched and homed in on four key insights regarding the Gen Z psyche.

adidas forum shoe

Quoting its internal research, the agency discovered that Gen Zs are “digital beings” and view the internet as an extension of themselves, having known life with the internet and understand themselves in the context of this dimension. They are also “co-creators of information”, and seek brands that connect with them as peers and give them forums that they can participate in, create the information for, and share with others, said the agency spokesperson.

The agency also observed that the Gen Z put the community before self, and demonstrate heightened social consciousness, as seen online and in world events globally. Lastly, Gen Zs show nostalgia for the past through their retro-inspired aesthetic references, co-opting looks and making it relevant for themselves today.

“Our co-opting of something that was old, like the early internet forum, and making it new, has parallels with the Forum shoe which was first introduced in 1984 and is relaunched today. We envisioned The Forum a safe space where people can come to leave notes of encouragement, air their views and learn something new,” said the agency’s spokesperson. Meanwhile, The Forum also showcases Forum products with links to the adidas eCommerce platform and partnering retail stores, which hopes to make the microsite “a powerful, multi-purpose content marketing tool” for this campaign, added the spokesperson.

The agency shared with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that over the last three weeks, The Forum’s microsite has garnered almost 13,000 page views and nearly 6,600 users. On social media, the campaign has reached over 100,000.

In addition to a media partnership with Hypebeast, adidas will continue to push Forum stories throughout the course of the year and introduce new iterations of the footwear in 2022. The spokesperson added that adidas’ goal is to position Forum as an iconic staple footwear within the adidas Originals pillar and position it as a silhouette that represents an open way of life and expression.

The brand also seeks to drive sign-ups for its membership through this initiative and hopes to see an increase in its membership and app usage by 10-15%, said the spokesperson. This will be done by offering exclusive perks within its Creators Club membership framework as customers continue to progress throughout the tiered statuses. Perks include priority to events, priority access to exclusive and limited edition products, adidas Running by Runtastic membership, early access, among others.

The campaign includes a three-part video series titled “The Forum Show”, featuring homegrown rapper Yung Raja, illustrator Clogtwo, French-Singaporean media personality Charlotte Mei, actress and co-founder of eco-brand Haus of Green Eswari, actress and advocate Devika Panicker as well as burn survivor and athlete Charlene Chew. Each episode will feature two of the creators sharing their ideas and perspectives on various topics “that matter to Gen Z”, such as innovation, sustainability and advocacy.

The campaign will also leverage the social media following of the six forum creators as well as a roster of five other creators (Iman Fandi, Rauzan Rahman, Ming Yew, Chris Van Huizen and Efy) to create awareness around the Forum product. Taking inspiration from the resurgence in trading card collecting and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), each creator also modelled the product in social posts styled like trading cards on their feeds.

Hana Kim, director, Light Years said that from the brand’s point of view, a platform such as The Forum can support a campaign into its sustenance phase, adding that “The Forum functions not just as a one-source-of-truth content hub that showcases the product, it also is a powerful tool for storytelling, communicating brand values and inviting visitors to become co-creators of the content on issues that our target audience care about deeply.”

Naufal Gani, brand communications, adidas Singapore, said: “We have worked with Light Years on a number of activations and their ability to unlock a great story and communicate progressive values continue to excite us. That they can incorporate digital touchpoints creatively and seamlessly into campaigns makes them a valued partner where it comes to launching products in these pandemic times in unique and efficient ways.”

Previously, adidas SG created a sport anthem leading up to its physical retail outlet at VivoCity earlier in May, which is also adidas' newest performance brand concept store. Titled "Who could imagine", the anthem was done in collaboration with local musicians Rauzan Rahman, MEAN, Mickeyleano, PRAV, and Weish, and comes as adidas looks to help people in Singapore stay inspired and realise its motto of "Impossible is nothing". It also collaborated with local creatives Aeropalmics, Ink&Clog, and Space Objekt to create hyper local signatures for the performance brand concept store which touts to offer consumers the widest array of adidas performance innovations locally.

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