Sucheta Dalal :Adidas: Impossible is everything?
Sucheta Dalal

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Adidas: Impossible is everything?  

March 26, 2010

Don’t know who’s at fault out here. Does it have to do with the alleged lack of sporting culture in India? Or, for its Indian operations, the otherwise funky brand Adidas has lost the plot. They have gone back to the tired, boring, done-to-death cricket players. And ironically enough, Adidas’s slogan happens to be: ‘Impossible is nothing’. A very promising and a very sporty slogan, loaded with kinetic energy. A slogan that immediately connotes pushing the boundary, shifting the goalpost, etc. Reportedly, Adidas borrowed this slogan from Muhammad Ali’s famous quote: "Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing." Superb! And what do they do with the inspiration? Turn to cricket! Wow!


So they have released three commercials, each one more hackneyed than the other. The usual stuff goes on: A fielder in action. A batsman in action. A bowler in action. Each imagining he’s changing the world. Absolute rubbish. Commercials like these we have watched over and over again, and as if to remind us of that fact, the Adidas commercials have been shot in black & white!


I guess the Adidas suits, in their defence, would say they had no option, that India is all about cricket and blah and blah. Fair enough. But the brand personality of Adidas is that of a risk-taker, an edgy individual. So to chicken out and play in the safe zone just doesn’t go with the brand. In fact, it kills its soul.


And what’s even more strange is that of late India has started making some waves in other sports. Rifle shooting, tennis, badminton, boxing, etc. Some of the players are winning international trophies as well. There’s renewed interest in hockey too. And it would have been totally befitting for Adidas to align itself with one of these games in India. To own it. And thereby stand out from the rest. And acquire a unique positioning in the consumers’ minds.


Alas, that was not to be. Now, Adidas isn’t just competing with other sports brands, but also with colas, refrigerators, washing machines, health drinks, cell phones—the list of cricket-crazy products is endless. And especially with those mediocre commercials, the brand stands no chance of being noticed.


Terrible waste of an opportunity. And the murder of an otherwise gutsy brand. — Anil Thakraney


-- Sucheta Dalal