adidas – #mygirls

Sometimes I see an advert that just grabs me, and says something so right, that makes me smile so much, that I think “fuck it, from now on, I’m only ever buying from you”.  Yes, I know the primary goal is to make money, but bloody hell, the adidas #mygirls campaign does so much more, I can’t stop watching the ads.  Here’s the cycling filmette, featuring Hannah Walker of Matrix Fitness Racing Academy and a group of young British cycling girls like Penny Rowson and Eli Thorogood of the Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team.  And below the jump I’ll try to be a bit more sensible about why I love these ads.

We’ve talked a bit about marketing on this blog, and I recommend Dan’s posts about it here, and his blog on Digitoro – but one of the things that is always interesting to me is how advertising so very rarely speaks to me, and is more likely to turn me off than on.  Part of the problem has always been not seeing myself in the marketing – and being repelled by things I’m supposed to aspire to.  I think about the ads for make-up and cleaning products, for example, and they show a vision of femininity that goes against everything I believe.  And the average ad around sports, well that seems to be as much about women looking *pretty* for men, while playing sports as anything else.  And then I saw this – and yes, I am predisposed to like things about cycling, especially with young cyclists I’ve met, but this captures so much about what I loved about sport as a teenager.

The first thing that grabbed me was the combination of three things – the fact you work so hard at it, and damn, it hurts; how exhilarating sport can be especially when you win, but even if you don’t; and the camaraderie of sharing all this with your friends.  It reminded me of getting up early to go training in the rain at Crystal Palace Park – and then how it felt racing 1,500m or cross country, that burning in my lungs, that feeling of flying when my body was shouting no, but I could push myself further.  Sitting on the floor of the showers after coming back from DofE expeditions with the girls, all of us too tired to stand, exhausted but laughing at the stupid things we’d just done.  My time as an outdoor activity instructor, jumping off the jetty into the lake.  And of course, more recently, how it feels when I’m cycling, the wind on my face, turning to grin at Vik and ride faster. Such pure, perfect moments, no thinking, just being there.  I love that, and any advert that takes me back there and makes me smile, that’s good just in and of itself.

Then, there’s the sports they’ve chosen.  It’s very clever, all of these feel like accessible sports, the girls are portrayed as having very ordinary lives.  They’re not the wealthy tennis club types – and they’re not afraid of getting hurt.  Showing girls getting knocked down in the boxing ring, falling in the velodrome – and getting straight back up and getting on with it.  These sports aren’t glamourous, and the girls don’t care about not looking pretty while they’re doing it – they’re tough cookies, normal girls, who are pushing themselves because they want to, fitting sport into their real lives.  The bits with Hannah loading her bike onto a train, and riding the rollers in her kitchen – that’s real life, that’s accessible, and aspirational too – if I were 14 again and seeing this, it would tell me I can do this too.

The girls all look great, but that’s because they’re having a great time – and that’s so important too.  The friendships – I’d want to be in ALL those girls’ gangs! – and the message they have there, that sport unites girls around the world.  Yes, I *know* it’s cheesy, but it’s also true.  We’re all the same everywhere, united by passions, and it doesn’t matter what you love, as long as you love it with all your heart, and work for it.  And yes, I’d be happy to buy something from the company that encourages that, and promote it – and that’s why this is so clever.  I’m sharing these videos (and check out the site, especially the cycling story) and having conversations about them on twitter and tumblr and in real life, and watching the film-ettes again, because I really, truly believe in the imagery and the ethos and the message. I hope other companies take note – show us what we really aspire to, and we’ll do the marketing for you.  Go one better, sponsor the sport and enable more girls and women to participate, and I’ll support you forever.


12 thoughts on “adidas – #mygirls

  1. Thanks for finding and sharing this Sarah! Now my marketing brain has to think more about how we specifically relate women’s cycling with meaningful brand experiences and so on. I may have to file another Marketing and Bullshit post soon.

  2. Yes, thanks for sharing these videos! This is why I love sport & team athletics – as a child, teenager, and adult. My best friendships and life lessons come from sports. Would love to hear the story and meet the people behind this marketing campaign. Maybe you can get them on a future podcast!

    • Sports are so important to kids that play them, aren’t they? One of the things I was thinking overnight was how this advert does something specific with the sporty-girls’ hair. You know how in usual sports ads, it’s usually long and glossy and wavy? With these, it’s so much more real – from the cultural aspects, like in Jordan and Nigeria, to the way that the cyclists have theirs right back under their helmets, and the swimmers have theirs back and wet. That’s what women and girls do! We want it very much out of the way, so we can play our sport harder. Just another little thing that make me happy about the ad!

  3. Sometimes I see a blog that just grabs me, and says something so right, that makes me smile so much! Disclaimer – I’m the marketing director at adidas on this campaign and love what you guys are saying, because your words could actually have been the original brief of this campaign. Real, authentic, human, accessible, cameraderie, united by passion, friendships and bonds through sport – as real to Women as to Men. We’re happy with how it turned out and very pleased that it illicits such a strong response. We’ll continue to shine the light on #mygirls gangs around the world over the coming months and have loads more interesting stories that celebrate the rituals and nuances that make sport such a powerful and universal force. And yes GiroJenny, happy to talk more about this at any time! Christy

  4. Brava Christy! Thanks for using your talents to influence and properly represent women athletes everywhere. Keep the ads coming and I’ll keep choosing adidas merchandise when I have a choice. I’m luckily surrounded by active women in my hometown of Park City, UT where there is positive pressure to be stronger, sweatier, and as athletic as possible – we are very fortunate. I wish all young girls could grow up in this type of atmosphere, but if they can’t, watching these videos can give them confidence to go try. I look forward to a future podcast with you and Sarah.

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