Last week we were coasting on Shanghai Metro Line No. 2 when our attention was suddenly seized by this new Adidas ad displayed on the LCD next to the exit. We were so awestruck by the concept and grandeur of the commercial that we momentarily lost all of our cynicism about big corporations pushing merchandise…and almost missed our stop. Then, as we got on the escalator off the Huangpi Lu exist, we noticed the entire wall was plastered with the same “Impossible is Nothing” advert, this time with Zheng Zhi, midfielder and captain of the China soccer team.
It just so happened that we ended up at the same dinner table last night with one of the print producers at TBWA, the ad agency behind Adidas’ Olympic campaign. She told us that the TV spot that so hypnotized us actually took over 6 months to produce, given the scheduling challenges of all the in-demand Olympic athletes. The concept was hatched over a year ago, and where teams from the U.S. and the U.K. worked on the complicated computer graphics for the commercial, the print versions were handed over to famous illustrators from Beijing.
According to Adidas’ press release, the full name of the campaign is “Together in 2008, Impossible is Nothing,” and represents the company’s largest brand campaign ever for a single market. As the official sportswear sponsor of Beijing Olympics, it makes sense that Adidas would invest heavily in creating that coveted emotional connection with the consumer. The ads mentioned here are the first in the series, with the rest of the campaign to be rolled out in phases leading up to the games.
Our sense of the kind of advertising that succeeds in China is nascent at best, but for this casual subway passenger we dare say it was one of the coolest commercials we had ever seen in Shanghai (or anywhere else, for that matter).