adidas turns billboard into pool, asks women to take a 'leap' of faith

Why go for a normal static billboard when you can make use of a liquid one? That was the creative concept adidas took on to launch its conservative and inclusive swimwear range for women. Done in collaboration with Havas Creative and Red Havas in the Middle East, the sports brand unveiled what it touts to be the world's first-ever liquid billboard to celebrate its drive to offer a wider choice of technical apparel for athletes everywhere. At the same time, it also hops to inspire confidence in women and build on its commitment to making the future of sports as inclusive as possible.

The liquid billboard featuring a five-metre high and three-metre deep swimming pool was placed at one of Dubai's popular public beaches. According to adidas, the liquid billboard could fit around 3,300 adidas shoe boxes and is made of reinforced transparent acrylic. Its walls can hold about 43,500 litres of water, equivalent to nearly 160 bathtubs. The structure took a team of 32 people to build, working around the clock for three weeks to deliver. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to adidas for information on whether the activation will also be carried out in Southeast Asia.

The women of Dubai were invited to take a public “leap” of faith and participate in the campaign by taking a dive “Beyond the Surface,” reinforcing the brand’s global attempt to ensure that sport is welcoming for all. This was to celebrate how water embraces all women regardless of shape, ability, race, or religion. Those who took the public dive into the liquid billboard included adidas ambassador and amputee triathlete Dareen Barbar and adidas ambassador Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi Arabian female to climb Mount Everest. 

The footage and content from the liquid billboard was streamed directly onto a digital screen above the Dubai Mall Ice Rink, next to the adidas flagship store, allowing shoppers and mall-goers to enjoy the experience. According to the brand's spokesperson, the billboard activation followed a recently launched film fronted by Sudanese-British spoken word-poet and sports inclusivity activist, Asma Elbadawi, celebrating the same theme.

Citing a YouGov survey commissioned by adidas in 2021, the brand revealed that only 12% of women in the United Arab Emirates are completely comfortable wearing a swimsuit at a public beach or pool. Body shame and lack of privacy are the two main reasons women do not feel comfortable in their swimsuits, quoted the company.

Amrith Gopinath, senior brand director adidas GCC, said that the recent launch of our diversified product offering for all women and our Burkini Collection stemmed from adidas’ belief that “nobody should be prevented from enjoying the benefits of being in and around the water”. He also said that each piece is also carefully crafted to ensure that additional fabric does not reduce a swimmer’s ability to move in the water.

“The range went through a detailed testing process with consumer groups across multiple regions to help find the perfect balance of fit, features, performance and coverage,” added Gopinath.

On a related note, Nike also tapped Malaysian model Arinna Wira for its modest swimwear collection back in December 2019. Nike said its designers saw a striking lack of options for female athletes who did not want to choose between modesty and movement with comfort and confidence. Athletes had shared that existing products were lacking in either coverage or functionality, battling drag instead of striving toward personal bests or worrying about whether their hijabs and coverings would remain in place. Too often, athletes said, swimwear presented a barrier, rather than a conduit, to enjoying the water. 

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