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ADIDAS GOING DIGITAL: ARE THEY PUTTING CHANNELS AHEAD OF STRATEGY?

BY STRATEGY DIRECTOR, ROB MCGOWAN.

A few days ago, Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted announced that the brand would be pursuing the goal of their marketing becoming 100% digital.

A trained marketer, Mr Rorsted stuck the knife in to more ‘traditional’ channels during an interview with an American TV station, announcing “Digital engagement is key for us; you don’t see any TV advertising anymore”.

Working, as I do, in an insight driven media agency, this troubles me. Despite the many recent scandals involving digital attribution and measurement across all the major platforms, ‘digital’ continues to enjoy a commanding stake at the top table of marketing.

Putting the issues of measurement to one side, I am potentially more confused about the assertion from Mr Rorsted that TV is no longer important. Earlier this month, Thinkbox posted the results of their analysis of video consumption in the UK for 2016. These showed that TV accounts for 94% of video advertising, and 75% of total video viewing.

You Tube accounts for 0.7% of total ad viewing and all other online video (including facebook) accounts for 5.2% in case you were wondering.

To be fair, the figures for viewing video on TV have dropped since last year – from 76% to 75%. I hardly think that this signals the death of TV.

I also think it is strange to announce that you will be going digital only without also providing the facts and figures as to why (to be fair, he may well have done to his board, in which caser I humbly back down).

It seems like channels are being put before strategy. Zaid Al-Qassab, the top marketer from BT was in the press recently expressing his frustration at the dominance of ‘digital’ in the vernacular of marketers; “We need to stop saying the word ‘digital’. When marketing was growing in the first half of the 20th Century, particularly around print, we didn’t call them paper marketers did we? The word just has nothing to do with consumers” he told Marketing Week.

The last part of his quote is, for me, the most important. Unless a detailed analysis of the consumer, their media consumption habits, the market you operate in and the product set you hold suggests that digital is the only way forward it seems foolish for me to announce that as your strategy.

Why handicap yourself in already hyper-competitive times`?

Look at the data, do your research, speak to your customers. I bet the less fashionable channels – TV, print, outdoor etc will still figure highly in their consciousness.