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Adidas Used Anthony Edwards, Social Media To Battle Nike In Sneaker Wars


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Adidas has launched a new campaign featuring NBA star Anthony Edwards to promote the Anthony Edwards Adidas AE1, his signature basketball shoe. The campaign, created by agency Johannes Leonardo, aims to position Edwards and his shoes as major players in the competitive sneaker market.

The campaign, titled “AKA,” showcases Edwards’ charisma and confidence. In the ad, Edwards humorously claims, “They said I got a little buzz going,” before confidently asserting, “Believe that.” The campaign is entirely social media-driven and has no paid support, leveraging Edwards’ popularity and social media influence to gain traction.

Adidas’ strategy includes bold and provocative ads that reference competitors directly. The Anthony Edwards Adidas AE1 launch ad took a shot at debut models from LaMelo Ball (Puma), Ja Morant (Nike), Luka Dončić (Jordan), and LeBron James (Nike). This brash approach, supported by Nick Maddox, a real-life friend of Edwards, aims to channel the spirit of iconic basketball advertising from the 90s and 2000s.

Paul Webber, senior brand director at Adidas basketball, explained that the campaign reflects the boldness and personality of Edwards. “We set out to make something iconic,” said Alfonso Ruiz, creative director at Johannes Leonardo. The campaign’s visuals feature a surreal, orangey-pink world dubbed “Georgia Peach,” paying tribute to Edwards’ mother and grandmother.

The ads have caught the attention of both fans and industry analysts. Mike D. Sykes of The Kicks You Wear called the AE1 a “Sneaker of the Year” candidate. The campaign’s success is attributed to its focus on Edwards’ personality and timely execution, with ads dropping alongside key moments in the NBA season.

Edwards, the first pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, signed with Adidas shortly after turning pro. His Anthony Edwards shoes, launched in October, have quickly become popular. The shoe’s design and marketing have drawn comparisons to the legendary Michael Jordan, although Adidas emphasizes that Edwards is carving out his own path.

The campaign also includes innovative elements, such as a virtual influencer to engage with teens in Vietnam about health concerns, reflecting Adidas’ creative approach to marketing.

Adidas has seen a resurgence in its basketball division, which has relocated to Los Angeles to recapture the energy of its 90s and early 2000s heyday. The AE1’s success marks a significant step in Adidas’ efforts to reclaim its position in the basketball and broader sneaker market. This move is particularly significant in the context of the ongoing sneaker wars, epitomized by the fierce rivalry of Nike vs Adidas.

Adidas’ CEO, Bjørn Gulden, highlighted the importance of basketball in reaching young consumers and influencing fashion and street culture. The AE1 campaign is a bold move to strengthen Adidas’ presence in these areas, leveraging Edwards’ growing influence and the strategic execution of the Anthony Edwards Adidas commercial.

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