A pioneering combination of products linked to this new game is the
build-up to Euro ’96.
Whenever a major sports tournament such as the Euro ’96 football
championships comes around, sports manufacturers embark upon an almighty
scramble for the public’s attention.
Finding new ways to stand out from the crowd is not easy. Adidas,
however, appears to have hit on a real winner - video games.
The company’s first steps into this arena, back at the time of the World
Cup in 1994, were tentative: FIFA International Soccer wasn’t even
branded with the Adidas name - it is advisable to tread carefully when
making commercial use of a new medium. As the Adidas soccer
communications manager, Paul Seline, says: ‘The last thing we wanted to
do was to appear intrusive.’
However, those who played the game, which was officially ‘sponsored’ by
Adidas, were exposed to Adidas branding and information about its
products, such as the Predator football boot. One option in the game
even allowed you to play in Predators.
Research commissioned among players later showed a favourable response
to Adidas’s presence, and now the video game route is also an integral
part of the company’s big Euro ’96 push.
This time, the Adidas name is going to be up there in lights, but the
hope is that Adidas Power Soccer will be just as well received as its
As with the FIFA game, APS was sourced during its development phase by
Microtime Media, the UK company which specialises in taking advertisers
on to the video game medium.
Mark Cadogan, the client services director at Microtime, was
commissioned last August to prepare an extensive report on around 50
soccer games then in development. The winner came from Psygnosis, the
international software company. ‘We felt it had produced a soccer game
that was really ground-breaking,’ Cadogan says.
The cutting-edge technology not only suggested that, like FIFA
International Soccer, the game would become the market leader, but also
tied in neatly with the theme of Adidas’s planned marketing campaign.
Adidas will launch five ‘innovative’ products in time for Euro ’96 - a
new boot, studding system, football, goalie’s gloves and women’s boot -
and all bar the latter will be featured in APS.
All the products will be launched globally (as will the game) with
advertising currently being prepared by Adidas’s agency, Leagas Delaney.
The theme, Seline says, will be that Adidas is committed to innovations
which will help to improve the game for players. And so, in the video
game, explanations of how to make certain tricky manoeuvres are linked
to the relevant product. Players then have the option, for example, of
doing a ‘Predator kick’.
The youthfulness of the target audience is ideal for the client.
However, Seline is not getting carried away. He refuses to reveal how
much of the marketing budget has gone on the game, but casts it squarely
in a supporting role.
In another fine example of mutual back-scratching, Adidas has struck an
exclusive deal with Sony to launch the game on the state-of-the-art
Playstation format. It will need a stunning performance to outsell FIFA
International Soccer, which has shifted 1.5 million units on six
formats. However, who would bet against APS going straight to the top of
the games charts on its release next month?