Category D01. Social Video
Idea Creation IRIS London, UNITED KINGDOM
Production IRIS London, UNITED KINGDOM
Additional Company UNIT MEDIA London, UNITED KINGDOM
Additional Company 2 THE QUARRY London, UNITED KINGDOM
Name Company Position
Matt Tassell iris Senior Creative
Marc Owens iris Senior Creative
Adam Fish iris Creative Director
Ben Buchanan iris Account Director
Simone Botherway iris Account Director
Sid Daffarn iris Senior Agency Producer
Simon Yoxall iris Board Director
Nico Tuppen iris Managing Director
Henry Scotland iris Managing Partner
Jess Reynolds iris Agency Producer

The Campaign

“I don’t want to be you. I just want your boots.” For years, football brands have placed the world’s most successful players on a pedestal, suggesting that young football fans can set themselves on a path to replicate idols IF they buy their boots. But that path is tried, tested and past its sell-by date. Kids these days are more informed, more cynical and more astute than ever. In order to truly resonate with our consumer and make this idea bigger than just the boots we’re selling, we wanted to break traditional convention, and encourage them to create for themselves. Anyone can imitate… but only those who create have the power to stand out from the crowd. We came up with a film series to subvert the hype and adoration that surrounds professional footballers, and instead encourage young footballers to #NeverFollow… empowering them to create their own path.

Creative Execution

The campaign launched with a film featuring the world’s most expensive footballer, Paul Pogba. Initially, he appears to be the star, telling the viewer, “You will never be me”. However, he’s quickly interrupted by the voice of our young male consumer: the film’s unseen hero. We gave him the confidence and power to create for himself, playfully placing him at loggerheads with Pogba. From Pogba’s off-field swagger to on-field prowess, our consumer digitally disrupts & verbally messes with Pogba’s world and rejects the idea of imitating him. We rolled out a series of films featuring other top-tier players and football influencers, each of whom were playfully dismissed by our mouthy consumer. This ad isn’t for fans. It’s for young footballers. After all, those who create, never follow. The stars are in on the act though – “I'm me, so you be you”. BUT… you can still have their boots.

With zero media spend, the video content racked up over 9 million organic views across key adidas and partner platforms. The hero film resonated with our audience as well. 95% of viewers watched through to the end, with 22% of viewers clicking through to the e-commerce product page on That high level of viewer retention also meant our audience understood Pogba’s encouraging “You be you” reprise, ensuring our message was clear and understood. That message was well received to boot, with 97% of YouTube engagements being positive ones. On social, the content landed with impact, generating over 40 million unique impressions and over 200,000 mentions of the #NeverFollow hashtag, helping adidas to experience a 15% social audience growth. Product sale statistics withheld.

Our audience was teenage boys; so YouTube, Instagram, Facebook & Twitter were our platforms of choice. We laced our films with visual cues to meme culture and the world of social media – the very arena in which the hype, fanfare and scrutiny surrounding pro footballers exists. We played on conventional sports advertising, where the brand makes their superstar asset look incredible and tells the audience that if they buy their boots, they can be like their hero. Subverting that tradition, we tapped into the never-ending fan commentary that surrounds superstar players on social media, and gave consumers one unified voice through our VO, which interrupted and disrupted the world of our pro assets, encouraging consumers to express their own creative identity and create, rather than imitate. ‘Following’ is what fans do. This was our chance to encourage individuality in young footballers with a bigger brand message to Never Follow.