Adidas has the edge on Nike's similar TV advertising campaigns

Challenge everything; impossible is nothing; just do it; all-in; my time is now; take the stage; make it count; write the future. That is, in essence, my initial review of the latest Adidas ad.

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The ad (it's the one featuring lots of athletes getting ready for 2012, interspersed with street scenes of people supporting them) is the latest in the 'Take the stage' campaign. It is nicely crafted and aesthetically lovely, as you'd expect from a class act such as Adidas.

However, and this is my main point, it feels a lot like other ads in this category - primarily those for Nike. Both brands seem to have decided to occupy the same territory. Whether it's a rousing slogan ('Just do it', 'Challenge everything') or an 'up-and-at-'em' event ad ('Take the stage', 'My time is now'), there is an eerie similarity. Both recognise the compelling nature of seeing professionals doing their thing. Both understand the psychology of sport - the mix of tensions, hopes, dreams and ambitions. Both use music to great effect. Which means they end up pretty indistinguishable, don't they?

We've been taught for years about brands having to be distinct - expressing their DNA in everything they do. So, on that basis, this ad is a dreadful mistake and all involved should be thrashed.

Here's the thing though: I'm not sure anyone outside the ad industry cares. Consumers simply see two brands delivering exactly the sort of thing they like. So, it is fine for them both to be doing similar things, because the answer they have reached is correct. Of course, Nike will claim it got there first, and Adidas is only copying its brave lead, but that's irrelevant, because both brands are now sharing the space where sport meets street. It's over. Job done. It's a draw (at least in creative terms).

Or perhaps not, for surely if sport demands one thing, it is that we find a winner. To do that, we have to delve into these brands' creative offerings a little more closely. We have to decide between the global citizen Nike, and its love-letter to the world's amateurs (with no particular country affiliation), and the slightly more homegrown, British scenarios favoured by Adidas. It's then that you start to see the subtle differences between these brands.

Where Nike offers a glossy trip around the world, Adidas has adopted something more low-fi, suburban and authentic. Which is where it has the edge. I recognise Adidas, and it feels like it recognises me. It's a brand that seems to love us, the British, whereas Nike seems to be offering us an escape from pedestrian Britain. So who is more relevant right now?

Well, as I write this, it's July 2012. It's a beautiful 30 degsC in London and the Olympics is about to start. There can be only one winner - Adidas, the brand that understands our pride at this moment.

Brand strategy verdict: 8 out of 10

Strategically, despite 'Take the stage' being standard fare, this ad is well conceived and attractively executed.

It is deeply relevant, emotionally strong and locally sourced.

Adwatch (Aug 1) Top 20 recall: Adidas
Latest Jul-25 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1 (–) BT  Abbott Mead Vickers
2 (–) Argos  CHI&Partners/
3 (–) InjuryLawyers4U  The Gate Films/
MediaCom North
4 (–) Asda  Saatchi & Saatchi/
5 (–) Sky  Brothers & Sisters/
6= (–) Vodafone  SapientNitro/
6= (–) Canesten  JWT London/
8= (–) Daz  Leo Burnett/
8= (–) Wickes  MWO/Carat 30
10= -7 B&Q  McCann Erickson/
10= (–)  Dare/Carat 29
12 (–) Tesco  The Red
Brick Road/
13 (–)  Mother/Initiative 25
14= (–) Adidas  Sid Lee/Carat 24
14= (–) LV=  Designate/Carat 24
16= (–) Furniture Village  Golley Slater/TMW 21
16= (–) The Sun  WCRS/Mindshare 21
16= (–) Toyota Yaris  Saatchi &
Saatchi Europe/
19 (–) Gillette Fusion  BBDO New York/
20 -8 Morrisons  DLKW Lowe/MEC 19

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