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#Adidas Tells Young Footballers to #Unfollow #Messi

I know what you're thinking, has some kind of social media war broken out between Messi and Adidas? No, Adidas are smarter than that. In fact, they've directly involved him in an ingenious ad campaign which encourages young hopefuls to unfollow him. The idea is that if players focus on being the best that they can be, rather than being 'the next Messi' or 'the next Suarez'.

The ad itself features a well sourced collection of some of the best tweets and general social media shoutouts about Messi, even making a point of the fact that Google autocompletes 'Messi is' to 'Messi is not human'. It doesn't any more, 'is a God' tops the list now. It might seem like a bit of a gutsy move by Adidas, but the focus is more on the principle of the idea, rather than just getting everyone to unfollow him, which would indeed be utterly suicidal.

Football is perhaps the most grass-roots sport there is, it looks just as at home on the streets of Barcelona as it does on the Camp Nou turf. Brands inside and outside of sport have always tried to reflect that with their advertising, but Adidas are taking it a step further here by steering fans away from social media and towards a more active life.

The overall popularity of Adidas has been flagging for a while now, but news recently broke that they were pumping much more time and energy into their sales and distribution, as well as planning a series of bold new advertising strategies. One of these involves bring together its most successful football clubs - Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus and Real Madrid - under a single banner: #BeTheDifference.

Much like the Messi initiative (which can't really cross over, given he plays for Barcelona), it's focused around encouraging consumers to help shape the brand. Well known partners are already being granted more creative control in how they promote the company, and a lot more focus is being afforded to key cities like London and Paris (which will also put Adidas directly into Nike's crosshairs).

It will be interesting to see how this campaign plays out, since social media is such an instrumental force in sport advertising. It still plays a part in this, but once again it's about user-generated content, about giving people an active role in the campaign, rather than just being passive consumers.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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#Adidas Tells Young Footballers to #Unfollow #Messi Reviewed by Callum Davies on Sunday, August 23, 2015 Rating: 5
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