How Adidas Originals is using Snapchat

Inside the fanatical world of sneakerheads, product leaks are common. Now, Adidas is looking to a new tool to lessen the impact of unauthorized grainy iPhone pictures: Snapchat.

“We’re at a moment where the classic mechanism of launching a product isn’t always working. It’s a global world and one where everyone with a mobile phone can capture a picture that’s under embargo,” Silvia Calligher, global PR and social media director for Adidas Originals, told Digiday.

Originals, Adidas’ lifestyle brand, launched its Snapchat channel last Friday where it is preemptively teasing items from its highly guarded collaborations.

Its Snapchat story, which saw musician Pharrell Williams share moments from the LA launch of his own Originals line, flashed the first glimpse of his purple “HU” NMD kicks. The image was saved by Snapchat users over 4,000 times using the app’s screenshot function and later shared on other platforms including Instagram and Twitter.

Kicks and snaps

“We didn’t know beforehand if it was the right thing to do,” Calligher said. “We really want to give users an inside look. Make it a priority to see Snapchat before every other channel. There, once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

While other sportswear brands are tapping into the star power — and Snapchat clout — of their ambassadors (Kylie Jenner at Puma being the best example), so far their content has been mostly behind-the-scenes fodder from photoshoots. But Adidas Originals is going one further. Rather than creating its own content, it’s handing the reins over to the influencers themselves.

Adidas already has one Snapchat channel, Adidas Football, which launched last August to target football fans in Europe. While the two share case histories, their strategies are very different: Adidas Football has contractual arrangements with a large number of players and teams, while Originals relies on “friends and family” and its small group of ambassadors.

Pharrell’s takeover of the channel delivered a first-person view of the event, complete with brand hashtags and cameos from celebrities including rapper Big Sean, another member of the Adidas Originals family. Pharrell also worked with the brand’s in-house design team to create a special geofilter for the launch event, based on his own doodles. This was used by several guests including DJ Khaled, whose account is said to have more than six million followers.

“When we work with brand ambassadors, there are obviously common values, but they also bring to the brand something it didn’t have before. For Pharrell this included his Snapchat audience, so it was remarkable for us to launch with him,” Calligher said.

Pharrell’s audience is made up of the “sporty teens” Originals wants: Young digital natives who devour pop culture. Unlike their counterparts on Instagram and Tumblr, they don’t want curated, personalized content — they want immediacy and access.


“For a long time, we’ve been considered a retro brand. This mobile conversation helps us get in the moment in the now,” Calligher said.

In total, the 128-second Snapchat story, which appeared on the platform’s Live section and on its followers’ feeds,  garnered 3.4 million views over 24 hours. In turn, 87 percent of users watched the story in full.

According to Thomas Cilius from analytics firm, 85 percent is average for a 10-snap story; however, in stories up to 30 snaps, this tapers off to 66 percent of users. By this measure, Adidas Originals’ story, which clocked in at 33 snaps, performed more than 21 percent above the Snapchat average.

Going forward, the brand will tap other creatives in its ambassador network for its collaborative process. While Calligher couldn’t be specific, this roster will include photographers, musicians and stylists. For this reason, rather than posting daily updates to Adidas Originals’ followers, its five-person social team, which has two employees working solely on Snapchat, will center content around events.

“To work with influencers, you really need to have a firm schedule, to make the most of the short time they have available,” Calligher explained.

The team has already planned a year’s worth of snaps featuring launches, parties and new collections. Additionally, it is also exploring ways to localize this content using tools such as geofilters. And while other brands are experimenting with advertising on Discover, Originals has no plans to move into the publishers’ arena.

“For now, it’s more about staying in our own channel. We have the credibility to speak for ourselves,” Calligher said.

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