You know what I really want right now? A pair of Adidas Supercourts. But I’m thinking, am I the kind of guy who wears Supercourts. Could I really pull it off? If I were to go on the tube in my man-from-Del-Monte linen trousers, paired with shiny white Supercourts, would I look like some Steve Jobs entrepreneur or some guy who’s just culturally confused?
I imagine brands find themselves in this pickle all the time. Trying to embrace culture but looking out of place.
Brands like Adidas have a history of doing it well, so well, they’ve become indistinguishable from the culture they represent. Are they a culture brand that sells trainers? Or a trainer brand that sells culture? This blurring of lines is category one, straight-up culture consent. And it’s the dream. If you’re not wearing a certain brand, you’re not part of the in-crowd, because that brand defines the in-crowd.
This in-crowd doesn’t even see adverts anymore. We’re in the middle of our annual summer school here and one of the kids tells us advertising has zero effect on him — when he’s asked what trainers he has, he laughs and says: ‘That’s not advertising, that’s my trainers.’
Don’t take culture consent for granted. It’s a balancing act. And sometimes, brands fail miserably. You know the scene — middle-aged marketeer tries to talk to a younger, hipper audience — starts using words like yolo, totes, woke. It’s cringe. Rather than a brand nestling into a culture, it sticks out — like an embarrassing mum or dad dropping their kids at summer school waving, “See you later, yolo.” (FYI, all our summer school parents are woke enough to steer clear of such tragedy.)
So how do brands speak to a culture they’re dying to tap into? That’s the wrong question — totally.
Forget the words, the touchpoints, the celebrity endorsements — first thing’s first — a solid brand idea. Don’t get tied up in how you present your product to your ideal audience. Let’s look at what your brand actually offers them and draw attention to your product with an idea, not a tone of voice.
That Supercourt strap-line, ‘made with care, worn without’ is all about not giving a ‘BLEEP’. Scuff them up. Get paint on them. And what? Here’s a trainer that doesn’t care. It’s apathetic — super casual — not what you’d expect from what is essentially a Wimbledon classic.
The Adidas advert isn’t cool — it’s clever — and I can respect that. Good, solid brand thinking that connects with the way a target market thinks rather than the way it speaks.
I think I’ve managed to talk myself into those Supercourts after all. So what if I can’t pull them off, I don’t care about that, I’m living the brand. I’m going to wear those trainers, precisely because I don’t care about my trainers — and because they’re Adidas — and Adidas are cool.
— Alex Hamilton, Copywriter
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