adidas' Pinata Promo – Smashing Brand Design

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Smashing Brand Communications Campaign
Footware brand adidas spend more time than most thinking outside the box. And in this case the box is their take on the classic kids party game, the pinata. Teaming-up with sports shoe retailer Footlocker, adidas has put together an online campaign – integrating video and Facebook – to build awareness around the launch of their new range of Ciero skate sneakers.

The last time we had a kids party with a pinata, the results were nearly fatal. I mean, think about it – 20 kids hyped–up on red lemonade, a blindfold, a big stick and a stuffed animal full of candy. You couldn’t create a more explosive and potentially lethal scenario. So the idea of taking this mayhem on-line seems to make alot of sense – even if just to make sure no-one takes their eye-out.

The video is sweet, it carries the level of cool, urban production quality we expect from adidas. The clip – featuring Australian skaters Jack Crook, Tom Snape and Aaron Winsbury, BMX rider Leigh Giason staging an impromptu street party and smashing open a giant pair of adidas Ciero piñatas. The folded-paper typography for the campaign is a brand design bonus – you just gotta love that creative detail.

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Unfortunately the game itself is pretty lame-o. It has the usual pass-it-on, win a prize scenario; the person who starts the Piñata that gets smashed and passed by the most people takes home a PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS Large and $1,000 worth of video games. And everyone who smashes and passes a Piñata goes into the draw to win secondary prizes, including a Foot Locker gift voucher valued at $150. It’s housed on the Footlocker site, and the Footlocker brand is just never going to carry the same level of tribal cred that adidas brand does – that’s just the reality of retail co-branding in Australia.

So here’s the issue for adidas; they can create all the ‘out of the box’ integrated brand campaigns they like, connecting with their urban street tribe, but the minute they try to integrate that campaign in-store (beyond the influence of their brand and through retail partners) the brand integrity becomes compromised – even in the online environment like this campaign. In a small market like ours, that’s one curly brand conundrum.

Dave Ansett, Brandamentalist
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Brand Designer and supporter of giving blindfolded kids a semi-lethal weapon in the name of confectionery.


  1. The real fail is how this is nothing more than a marketing miss. Adidas could be so much more successful if they would spend less time trying to make a flashy campaign and more time training the their sales staff to do a better job with retailers. I have continue to hear from retailers who get so fed up with the sales reps. Many are simply ending their contracts with Adidas and not carrying the product.

    Maybe spend less time with gimmicky online games and more time caring for your retailers, Adidas.

  2. Thanks Kendall, you present a brand truth most eloquently. So often a business spends their budget and energies on the highly visual brand communications, failing to identify an even more critical brand interaction because it sits below the surface. For adidas, the sales rep/retailer interface is a critical one and the perfect opportunity for the brand to shine. It’s not a question of doing one or the other well, but a question of doing a great job with both.

  3. Great article Dave. As I was watching the videos I couldn’t help to think how predictable the clip was. “Que cute girl now.” and now “cool skateboarder”, and done. Being from that market, I don’t like it when you can feel the lack of authenticity when brands put all the marketing elements in and pot and mix, without adding any context or substance.

  4. A little try hard, but they will have to try hard if they want to crack this market as it has always been one best served by authentic skater brands. It reminds me why my kids would not ever let me wear skater branded clothing, as I was not a skater – lacking authenticity. But I always responded that it never stopped me wearing rock star gear and I was not a rock star. Ok, ok i will shut the fuck up!

  5. Reg, Love the passion – who doesn’t want to be a rock star. But the point you make is a strong one – brand that compromise their authenticity through their brand communications design or any other touch point will feel the impact to brand equity in the long term. Especially if they’re youth oriented brands.

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