Adidas uses story to shape our reality for the better
Stories shape our sense of reality. Quite literally.
We’re often misguided by our own confirmation bias. But there’s also possibly a biological component: believe it or not, we don’t even really “see” the world with our eyes! As theoretical physicist and writer Carlo Rivelli explains, most of what we “see” comes from our brain. It creates an image of what it predicts the eyes should see, based on past experience, and sends that info to the eyes. The only “live” information sent from our eyes to the brain is discrepancies from the brain’s expectation. Whoah.
Either way, the upshot is we interpret the world based on our expectations, and those expectations are based on the stories we experience – the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories other people tell us. And many of those stories are told by the media that plasters our screens and public spaces.
Which is what makes Adidas’s new “Impossible is Nothing” campaign so great, both as a piece of marketing and as a driver of social change.
Changing the face of society
The campaign spotlights people representing a diversity of body shapes, ethnicities, religions and disability often overlooked or presented negatively in our stories.
The glossy treatment usually reserved for NBL superstars is instead given to people like plus-size yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley, disabled model Elle Goldstein, trans volleyballer Tiffany Abreu, and basketballer Asma Elbadawi who fought to wear her hijab on court. All have a powerful social message, that neatly aligns with Adidas’s own purpose: “I’m possible”.
Seeing such people be the face of one of the world’s biggest sports brands, plastered on billboards and celebrated in inspirational videos, is an important psychological catalyst. It challenges our assumptions and starts to shift our subconscious expectations of the place in our society deserved by people who look different from the media’s traditional pre-packaged “ideal”.
Giving everyone their space to shine
In some countries, Adidas has cleverly extended the equality message behind the core campaign. Adidas Dubai encourages anyone to post a photo of themselves working out, completing the sentence “I’m possible because ______”. Adidas then turns these pics into more campaign ads on its instagram account.
They’re encouraging a social movement and gathering an army of brand ambassadors at the same time. That’s smart business. But it’s also an inspiring example of how smart business can work hand in hand with social good.
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