With 70-year old Stan Smith shoe, Adidas spins marketing gold


Adidas aims to increase its sales by 40 million pairs of sneakers annually, to more than a half-billion by 2020, largely by appealing to fashion-conscious teens and urban hipsters. At the heart of that effort: a decades-old shoe named after a retired tennis player who lives in South Carolina and hasn’t won a major singles tournament since 1980.

According to Business report , The shoe is the Stan Smith, a white-leather number with pale green accents introduced in 1971, the year before Stan Smith (the player, now 70) earned his second and last Grand Slam singles title. Thanks to a well-orchestrated promotional blitz, this unlikely hero has made one of the greatest comebacks in marketing history, from a declining brand popular with suburban dads into a must-have for the ­fashion-savvy.

As they rev up an effort to catch Nike, Adidas executives are seeking to replicate parts of the campaign to stoke interest in other shoes. “We wanted to position it anew with fashion designers and trendsetters,” says Arthur Hoeld, who heads Adidas’s brand strategy and business development. “This is part of the concept – to push boundaries, to experiment.”

As Adidas was planning the Stan Smith revival about five years ago, the shoe was still selling, though it was showing up more often at discount stores. The feeling around the company was that the model had lost its mojo, but Hoeld and a handful of other executives saw its potential, their confidence bolstered by reports that Phoebe Philo, creative director of the Céline fashion house, had been spotted sporting Stan Smiths at her shows.

So Hoeld’s team outlined a campaign designed to look grassroots but which was in fact choreographed from start to finish with a goal of making the shoes de rigueur for people whose parents may be too young to recall the last time Smith played at Centre Court.


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