By Lizzy Bakhaus, Strategist
Find out what happens when a traditional sporting goods brand transforms perceptions through experiential branding for 500 Yogis
What comes to mind when you think of the brand adidas? For me, it’s my favorite pair of soccer shorts from the high school junior varsity team, which draws a perfect metaphor to my assumption of the brand—reliable, old-school and made for high-intensity sports. My assumption of the brand, that is, up until August 27th, 2016.
This past Saturday, the folks behind Wanderlust—the world-renowned international yoga festival series—introduced the very first “mindful triathlon” to Fort Collins, Colorado, where yogis and runners came from near and far to enjoy a “zentastic” day of heartfelt fun in the sun. The event merged the energy of a music festival into the community atmosphere of a yoga and fitness experience—my ideal way to spend a sunny Saturday in my home-state.
Okay, so my opinion of the adidas brand is admittedly a bit antiquated due to the fact that I haven’t purchased a product or visited a franchise in years. But, if you were abreast of the news for this global leader in sporting goods, you’d know that they announced a national, multi-year partnership with Wanderlust at the beginning of this year in an effort to challenge the status quo and gain a new audience. Uniting adidas’ all-star products and services with the Wanderlust community didn’t just break boundaries—it revolutionized public perception and informed the new target that it could be less about “sport” and more about mindful and meaningful activities.
I know what you’re thinking—somebody got her hair braided at a yoga festival and drank the Kool-Aid. But, as Adam Chmielowski claims, “True cultural connection is the Holy Grail for brands if they want to create an enduring emotional relationship with people.” So what caused this cultural connection? An event that was chock-full of experiences that left lasting imprints in my mind thanks to the brands that put finance aside to get my attention.
adidas: My adidas experience started during the 5k, which included signs and members of the brand brigade posted every couple hundred feet delivering inspiring words to me as I jogged past, reinforcing brand awareness, but also reminding me that adidas is inherently positive and supportive. The 5k was followed by a 75-minute yoga session with the one-and-only DJ Sol Rising, which transitioned smoothly into a 30-minute meditation session—both of which included upbeat, confident and trustworthy leaders standing proudly on the adidas stage.
The experience continued in the adidas tent, or… mini-store, which included everything you would expect—the newest of the new in shoes and yogawear, with a special focus on their latest Stella McCartney partner line—plus a bit of the unanticipated. adidas hired a few of the ladies from Aveda, the hair and skin care tycoon known especially well for the memorable experiences with which they delight customers every time they walk through their doors. It started with chakra identification and misting of any scent you choose and ended with a local hair stylist braiding your hair—both free of charge.
Why would this sporty brand don their nail polish for such an event aside from increasing spectator count and browsing time? To give you an unexpected and memorable delight that left you feeling refreshed and a bit more beautiful than when you walked in. Plus, it’s precisely aligned with their film series initiative, “I’m Here to Create,” which captures authentic moments in the lives of real female athletes. Each of the films highlights women who embrace creativity and defy conventions in order to more wholly express themselves
The granola atop this almond cream sundae is quite possibly the best part; adidas chose to share the glory, inviting national and local brands alike to bask in the good vibrations too. Primed to spend the dough they saved on that morning’s spin class, these happy-go-lucky patrons had the privilege of perusing the products and sustenance which lined the field with bright color and cultural branding techniques that are usually only found indoors at a demo conference.
Health-Ade Kombucha: As though the simple phrase “Kombucha Garden” wasn’t enough to draw in these spandex-clad spiritual warriors, Health-Ade offered a free Kombucha to anyone willing to write a postcard with positive thoughts to a youngster in Girls on the Run. Filling a jar (that was once used to ferment Health-Ade Kombucha) with postcards that inspire and empower young girls to live joyously, the brand reminded us not only of their environmental advocacy, but also of their philanthropic spirit and higher purpose—to bring more joy into this world through healthy living.
Krave: One would think this populace would be the type to BYOT (bring your own tofu) and wholeheartedly oppose the non-vegan lifestyle. That is, until you saw the line outside the Krave Jerky tent which offered free (and seemingly endless) beef jerky samples to the festival attendees. Yoga and beef jerky doesn’t exactly scream “perfect match,” but when a delicious product is teed up with beautiful design, thoughtful messaging and a couple of knowledgeable brand advocates, it’s easy to say yes to the… beef dressed in teriyaki.
The day rounded out as my Saturdays usually do—with a lesson from YogaSlackers on the art and skill of skinny slacklining, a hoola hooping class which uncovered both a hidden talent and a newfound, personal passion, an AcroYoga session incorporating partner acrobatics into the practice of yoga, inverted aerial yoga in hanging silks and a lesson in tribal marking with my body as the artist’s canvas.
At the end of the day, feeling fulfilled, at peace and open-minded, I also felt an innate affiliation towards the adidas brand and an uncontrollable desire to learn more about it—on their site, their social and in stores, I couldn’t help but want more, because, at the crux of this BDE experience was the people who made it all possible. adidas revolutionized my perception of the brand, but also made me a believer and advocate for the first time in over a decade. adidas elevated my already memorable experience to a level of excellence I wasn’t expecting, surprised me by challenging the status quo and outsmarting the industry heavy-hitters with marketing that really works, and by offering an unexpected delight in support of a community with which I feel culturally connected.
You say SA-TA-NA-MA. I say GO-A-DID-AS.
Learn More About Wanderlust:
• Wanderlust– http://wanderlust.com/festivals/
• adidas– http://www.adidas.com/us/
• Health-Ade Kombucha– http://health-ade.com/
• Girls on the Run– https://www.girlsontherun.org/
• Krave Jerky– https://www.kravejerky.com/
• YogaSlackers– http://www.yogaslackers.com/