Some in the Western world retain unfortunate stereotypes about China as a society that places little value on individuality, valuing loyalty to the state above all other things.
Advertisers, in turn, have often approached the world’s second largest economy with caution. For example, a 2008 Olympic-themed effort from Adidas illustrated Chinese consumers’ sense of national pride in their team as the German sports apparel brand aimed to shore up a larger share of what remains a rapidly growing market.
Yet young Chinese athletes are most definitely interested in expressing their own personalities, and Adidas’ latest attempt to reach them appeals directly to that desire. It also pushes back against the Cold War-era man-or-machine narrative while simultaneously mocking one of the brand’s chief rivals in the region.
Check out the new spot here:
Under Armour fans will notice that the first scene in “One in a Billion” directly references UA’s “Rule Yourself.” In that Droga5 campaign from 2015, thousands of clones of Tom Brady, Misty Copeland, Steph Curry and others demonstrated the hard and often mindless work that goes into being a world-class athlete—doing the same thing over and over again in the endless pursuit of perfection. (This isn’t the first time Adidas has taken a shot at UA’s repetitive-training mind-set.)
This first Chinese campaign from Adidas’ new global lead creative agency, 72andSunny, goes a bit further in reminding viewers that every form of athleticism can double as an expression of one’s individual style. These would-be stars aren’t limited by sport, gender or even nationality. (Note the hard-to-miss cameo here by one David Beckham.)
There’s still plenty of homeland pride to be found in a spot that also features appearances by Olympic volleyball player Hui Ruo Qui and swimmer Ning Ze Tao. But the big message here is that Adidas can help young competitors be inviduals, too.
So, why target Under Armour? That company’s recently announced plans to capture a bigger portion of the Chinese market, currently dominated by Nike (and Adidas), might just have something to do with it.