Adidas: 'We're relying less and less on the more traditional agency model'

Working with local creative communities comes with risks, but also big rewards.

The best way to remain culturally relevant is to immerse yourself into the culture, which is what Adidas is seeking to do with its newsroom concept. 

The idea, which was brought to life in 2013, brings the brand closer to consumers with offices in nine major trendsetting cities around the globe: Portland, Los Angeles, New York, Panama City, London, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, and Shanghai. 

These newsrooms are working directly with creative communities -- sometimes even over traditional agencies.

According to Adidas VP of global marketing Emily Maxey: "It would be limiting to assume that any brand’s global headquarters has a firm grasp on all of the cultural nuances or personalities of these different cities."

Especially for the iconic shoe brand, which is headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany. 

"We’ve really been trying to push beyond the traditional advertising model, and open up our brand to work with creatives and creators in these key cities," Maxey said, sitting down with me at the annual DPAA Video Everywhere Summit in New York. 

"We’re relying less and less on the more traditional agency model, and more and more on working with creative communities in these locations," she added. 

This allows for local campaigns that make sense, including Adidas’ recent brand promotion with London soccer club Arsenal -- something that works in London but would have likely fallen flat in the U.S. 

She did admit that working with local creatives could open the brand up to some degree of risk, but believes that the risk is worth it. 

"Of course, not every one of these situations goes off brilliantly, but at the same time, we’re looking at the bigger picture and seeing ourselves as a platform to foster creativity."

She continued: "I would much rather operate from a place of innovation, with an undercurrent of potential risk than stay stagnant and not try."

Keeping up with the cultural nuances of each city also requires quite a bit of trust and autonomy for each separate newsroom. 

"We have this notion of freedom in a framework," explained the marketer. "We have a clear framework from our global HQ, that sets general guidelines and parameters, but then within that framework we absolutely have freedom.

"I think being an organization that operates with agility speed and cultural relevance does require a high degree of autonomy."

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