Reebok forgot to explain what the endorsement means.

Reebok forgot to explain what the endorsement means.

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Viewers don’t watch ads analytically, dissecting the logic of the message.  They just let the ad wash over them giving them an impression of the brand.  That’s great for this ad because it is stylistically striking but logically a mess.

The ad features four superstar celebrities, Pharrell Williams, David Beckham, Rita Ora and Damian Lillard.  The success of an endorsement depends on three things: (1) how the audience feels about the endorser, (2) the strength of the connection made between the endorser and the brand, and (3) the perceived meaning of the endorsement.

Clearly the youthful target of athletic apparel is excited about these superstar endorsers.

The ad attempts to connect the endorsers with Adidas by interlacing shots of Adidas shoes or Adidas apparel bearing the three bar Adidas logo with the shots of the superstars.

But Adidas makes no attempt to define the meaning of the endorsements for viewers.  Adidas doesn’t help viewers understand how they should think about the Adidas brand because of these endorsements.  When Seiko became the official timer of the Olympics, the meaning was clear—Seiko is amazingly accurate.  When Michael Jordan wore his Nikes, the meaning was clear—Nike helps Michael Jordan fly like only Michael Jordan could.  What does it mean that Pharrell Williams, David Beckham, Rita Ora, and Damien Lillard endorse Adidas?  People you like wear Adidas?  Seems weak and vague.  Adidas could have stylishly made the point that perfectionists, serious about their performance wear Adidas.  That would have clarified the meaning of the endorsement.  It’s not hard to define the meaning of an endorsement, but it is an often neglected step.

Now let’s talk about what viewers don’t pay much attention to, the logic of the ad.  Just because viewers don’t analyze an ad rationally is no reason to make an ad so profoundly illogical.  The ad shows people who are clearly superstars saying that if you think that a superstar is adoring crowds and everything we all know a superstar is, then “I’m not a superstar.”  Huh?  In advertising, it’s often useful to give viewers a simple puzzle allowing viewers the pleasure of solving it. Superstars tell us that if we think superstars are what we all know defines a superstar, then they, the superstars, are not superstars.  That’s not a puzzle. That’s self-contradictory.  If viewers work at it, maybe they can make some sense of it, but it’s not worth it.

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