Thursday I ran into six different friends who each asked me the same question: “Are you going to the Adidas party tonight?”
With that level of interest, I made plans to arrive unfashionably early. What made the Adidas 60th anniversary such a major happening?
To be honest, the root of the occasion, the anniversary, wasn’t the main draw. The average person has no clue how old Adidas is, nor do they actually care. But birthdays provide a great excuse for a celebration, and if handled correctly, a major anniversary can provide an excellent marketing opportunity.
A combination of factors lead to the surge of interest in the Adidas event. First of all, there hasn’t been a big blow-out party in a long, long time. (And given the current economic climate, there may be fewer mega-events this year.)
To generate the biggest buzz, Adidas smartly combined forces for their anniversary. They hired the right PR companies as well as enlisted friends and associates to collaborate on the night.
Hong Kong based fashion and entertainment company CLOT was one of the major organizers of the bash. This was their first big party since the massive Coach launch last year. Several of their past events have been my pick for party of the year, so many people had high expectations.
Adidas also included Hong Kong retailer D-mop in their alliance. D-mop has both an extensive network and a cool crowd at their disposal. The retailer hosted a special J-01 branded VIP room at the party. Combining guests from CLOT, D-mop, Occasions and Alive Not Dead made for a diverse and substantial turnout.
The location of the event also contributed to the anticipation. The venue was an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang, a sort of a barren area between residential neighborhoods on the South West side of the island. Attending a party in a non-traditional, multi-level setting adds a sense of adventure to the night. I’ve been to the same location before for a Hennessey Artistry event. With a little creativity and vision, it’s possible to convert the large, empty factory into a special branded world, which is exactly what Adidas did!
Adidas – marketing ninjas?
The “Adidas 60th anniversary house party” was a masterful experiment in creating covert brand awareness. The exterior of the venue featured giant Adidas logos projected onto neighboring buildings and an Adidas branded ice-cream truck was parked out front giving away free ice-cream!
The interior of the space was a sea of props including various logos, an Adidas scooter, and a tennis room.
People in the industry have caught on. Filling an event with logo-bearing props does magic that you couldn’t possibly pay for. There were photo opportunities galore, and instead of having to push people to take photos in front of various logo settings, the guests were doing it on their own!
The end result of this strategy is that Facebook is now awash in Adidas imagery that gets broadcast throughout people’s social networks around the world. Adidas isn’t paying to put an ad on the page, it’s getting something far better – a near personal endorsement, as it is placed there by the individual. The branding effects of the party linger far after the free alcohol wears off! Advertising campaigns just don’t get much more effective than that!
Sure enough, arriving a little before nine, there was already a line of people waiting to get in. After taking a few photos, I headed inside.
The venue, which consisted of two floors and an enormous rooftop space was accessible by taking an Adidas-painted freight elevator up several stories.
When the doors to the industrial elevator opened, they revealed an Adidas-themed playground. There were sneakers, lollipops, tables, chairs, balloons, and even bathrooms emblazoned with the classic Adidas logo.
Down a set of spiral staircases on either side was the main stage where the fashion show would take place. The set-up here was different from what I’ve seen before. Ringed by the runway was a large faux swimming pool filled with plastic balls colored in Adidas hues.
The d.j. booth at the center was built to resemble an Adidas shoe box!
In one corner there was a bathtub filled with bottles of beer. On the other side was the J-01 VIP area with a separate bar and bathrooms. (The bathrooms here were unisex, which made it democratic, but a much longer wait for the guys than usual!)
The first act to come on for the night was 24 Herbs, followed by a cake cutting ceremony with Hsu Chi, Jan Lamb and Stan Smith (yes, the guy who the sneaker is named after!)
The party-goers snapped away!
The fashion show took place next with the models dancing around the pool, and finally jumping inside.
There was a larger than normal amount of press taking up the space directly in front of the stage.
After the fashion show, Steve Aoki came on and slowly all the security barriers came down. People began to play in the bubble pool and gather around the d.j. booth.
I’ve never seen people crowd around the d.j. as much as they did for Steve Aoki. The models and guests showed their support and Steve Aoki obliged by pumping up the audience with some bopping and hands thrown in the air.
Two stories above the main stage, the rooftop was a whole universe unto itself. Different tribes of Hong Kong’s nightlife took up spots in opposite corners of the enormous space. The whole area was packed.
I spent my time (as I usually do,) walking through the crowd, checking out the scene and running into friends. Massive events bring out people you haven’t seen in a while, and I was curious who I would bump into. The rooftop had a second d.j. booth set up and featured several d.j.s including Gilbert Yeung from Dragon-i. (Gilbert’s a well known Adidas aficionado!)
Alcohol was flowing everywhere, with people walking around holding bottles of vodka towards the end of the night. The mood was great and the crowd was buzzing with energy (and perhaps Redbull!) The multiple bars were crowded, but never too long a wait to grab a drink.
Towards the end of the event, I took one of the last elevators down from the middle floor of the party space. The rooftop was closed and the bottom level was being dismantled as I left.
The unique spectacle of the converted factory, combined with the huge turnout made the Adidas anniversary another legendary mega-party.