Shoe Culture – Adidas Gets It

Lucas    November 24, 2017

Nostalgia is alive and well among the fashion industry. Consumers who are longing for styles of past generation are influencing organizations to bring back products from the 50s and 60s. In a recent nostalgia-driven feud, Adidas and Nike both brought back retro offerings, Adidas with their Superstar and Nike with their Cortez shoe. Both were wildly popular shoes of the past, yet only one of the two successfully made a comeback. Why did the Superstar win the retro battle and the Cortez fall flat? Adidas understands how to use social media to influence shoe-culture.

When Nike decided to reintroduce the Cortez, they decided to go big. They hired celebrities like Kendrick Lamar and Bella Hadid, hired professional photographers, and spent lots of money promoting the re-release of their retro shoe (Stock, 2017). Despite the investment, Adidas’ Superstar outperformed the Cortez by a long-shot. At it’s peak, the Superstar was generating more than 3 times as much traffic on Google as the Cortez. As Nike responded by spending more, nothing really changed. Adidas was clearly making a strong comeback, and the shoe-fanatic sub-culture couldn’t stop talking about it.

Adidas took a much more subtle approach, and it paid off. Instead of paying celebrities to support their brand, they simply sent out pairs of their shoes to celebrities, hoping they would wear them and build an organic following based on their own genuine desire to wear the shoe (Stock, 2017). Follower’s noticed. The shoe’s popularity took off like wildfire, leading to one of the most prolific revivals in apparel history, and much of the success was based on trust.

Followers of these social media and fashion icons wanted the shoes. Since there was no strong marketing presence, consumers perceived integrity in the promotion of the shoes, which earned more trust in the brand, and ultimately resonated well with the target audience.

Lessons for Others

We are now in an era where consumers need to choose to subject themselves to traditional advertisements. It’s easy to block ads online and subscribe to ad-free media. As a result, marketers must be more creative with their advertising efforts, even going so far as to entertain consumers and support their products with genuine influential advocacy. Celebrities often have a loyal following and influence a large group of people, but they can lose a lot of their influence if consumers know that they are being paid to promote products, especially if they may not have chosen to support a brand if there was no paycheque attached.

Companies need to understand the cultural implications of their products. When employing social medias to support their sales, they must correlate with the values and missions of these now-powerful subcultures.

Organization: Adidas
Industry: Shoes and Apparel
Name of Organization Contact: N/A

Authored by: Lucas R. Coady

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Stock, K. (Nov 21, 2017). How Adidas Beat Nike at the Old School Game. Retrieved from