adidas x Parley sustainability campaign steps up

While Nike has had its head turned by Nigerian World Cup football kit hysteria this month, rival adidas has quietly ensured it’s not ‘sold out’ to commercialism [entirely] – by launching its sustainable Parley range.

Working with Parley, a network organisation of leaders who purposefully come together to tackle ocean destruction, Adidas has co-created a clothing and footwear range made from upcycled waste found on beaches and coastal communities, intercepted before it reaches the oceans.

And, with every pair of trainers developed from approx. 11 plastic bottles and other sustainable elements, there’s no doubt that these kicks are environmentally friendly.

I’ve already seen an advertising takeover on this week’s Time Out magazine in London (front, back and inside covers), but the conscious brand which is committed to changing lives through sport, is doing more than just an ‘off the shelf’ marketing push for its ‘Run for the Oceans’ campaign – it’s creating a movement.

This Sunday (17th June 2018), adidas is hosting a one-mile closed road running route, starting from St Paul’s Cathedral, whereby participants can track their performance on the Runtastic app. All results will be tracked globally, with $1 donated to the Parley Ocean Plastic Programme for the first 1m kilometres run.

You do the maths. That’s a $1m investment straight up. This is responsive, behavioural changing PR.

But, don’t be too swayed. Prime Time is nothing if not cynical.

A new study by has revealed that over two thirds of consumers would pay more for environmentally-friendly products, and 60% also claimed they’d pay more to brands which ‘give back’. So, by adidas taking responsibility for its impact, the company is appealing to customers’ ‘buy good, feel good, do good’ nature – and can therefore justify up to £180 for a pair of Adizero Prime Ltd running shoes.

But, when CSR becomes a key selling point for products, how does this impact an organisation’s overarching marketing strategy? Is it possible to exhaust environmentally-friendly USPs? And, how will it look to consumers if adidas decides to dial up its investment in commercial campaigns over the coming months?

Fortunately, these are questions adidas doesn’t have to answer. The current leading ethical clothing company, according to Good On You, there’s no one to learn from – meaning there’s no other role to play apart from setting the agenda. And, that’s a good position for any brand to be in.

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