Adidas’s I’m Possible campaign has been encouraging sportspersons across the region irrespective of their gender, religion, and even professional backgrounds to participate in making the impossible possible. Creative directors from the advertising agency, Havas Middle East, who have been behind this campaign reveal to Communicate the why and how behind this launch and the major challenges faced during the execution.
Under the core themes of diversity and inclusion, Adidas’s I’m Possible has inspired women from different walks of life to share their journey in sports with the world. Proactive regional campaigns including the user-generated digital billboards, and the newly constructed activation of a glow-in-the-dark basketball court on top of a 52-floor tower at The Palm, have contributed to promoting Adidas’s renowned brand framework for diversity, inclusion, and equity.
In an exclusive interview, Communicate sat down with the creative directors behind these campaigns from Havas Middle East. Serena Abi Aad and Anshuman Bhattacharya walk us through the creative process and challenges in the execution of this campaign.
In the image above: Serena Abi Aad and Anshuman Bhattacharya, Creative Directors at Havas Middle East
Which brand values of Adidas does the umbrella campaign of ‘I’m Possible’ align best with?
Serena Abi Aad: Adidas is very much about inclusivity. For us, it is all about making every single person and specifically, now women, believe that they belong in every sport. That is the main insight behind the billboard campaign as well. People that we looked up to were professional athletes and that kind of distanced the audiences from the brand, making them feel like ‘they look cool, but I can never get there.’ And so today, the efforts are more into making our consumers feel like they are a part of the sports community, and that they belong in sports. That’s what I'm Possible is all about.
The billboard campaign is celebrating every single one who chooses to practice a sport since it features regular women doing sports that they enjoy on a daily basis.
What inspired you to construct a basketball court as an activation?
Serena Abi Aad: The first thing we should take into consideration is that this is Dubai and we wanted to do something as large as this city. With Dubai rapidly evolving as the land where everything is possible, the connection with the brand’s attitude of ‘impossible is nothing’ just struck well. But why a glowing basketball court? For me the symbolic message from it is tied to the way women feel about sports. Many of us are raised to believe that sports are not for women and that if you do sports, you are masculine. So, wanting to bring these women out of the darkness was the idea behind the glowing basketball court, to really shine the light on these women and tell them that they belong in sports. That was the main insight behind this activation.
Why did you choose Asma Elbadawi as the face of the campaign, as opposed to an internationally known celebrity?
Anshuman Bhattacharya: The basketball court is based on British-Sudanese poet, activist, and amateur basketball player, Asma Elbadawi, and she played a massive role in one of the biggest changes to the profession of basketball, especially for women from this region, by being one of the strongest voices in petitioning against the rules of the International Basketball Association to remove the ban on hijabs and religious headwear in the professional sport. That felt like something that deserves to be celebrated, something that really needed to be shed light on because what she did wasn't just for female basketball players, but it inspired women across the region to believe that sports are for them. It actually opens up the floor to possibilities for women across this region and that was the key insight behind featuring Elbadawi in the campaign.
How does this campaign help Adidas to stand out from its competitors?
Anshuman Bhattacharya: I think one of one of the biggest things that I've always felt has set Adidas apart from other brands is this focus on possibilities, where it's not so much about giving your best or pushing yourself to become the ultimate version of yourself. This campaign is about celebrating yourself the way you are and making yourself believe that you are enough. Hence, celebrating Elbadawi in the most impossible way was made possible through this campaign. Celebrating regular women on billboards across Dubai, just the way professional athletes have been in the past just elevates the message. It is always about making our audiences realize that you’re enough and that you're worth celebrating.
How is the message delivered by the campaign evolving in the region and what does it signify?
Serena Abi Aad: Firstly, I enjoy the play on words, the playful and clever nature of this phrase, ‘I'm possible. For me, it signifies belongingness. It means that if she can do it, I can. And if I enjoy a sport, that is enough for me to pursue it, regardless of what people will say. It comes to what you are capable of doing, your importance, and your place in the world of sports.
Anshuman Bhattacharya: This campaign is also becoming a movement about perception shifting, the whole objective here is to get women across the region to start seeing the word impossible as I’m possible. To help women in the region find that it is in you to get up and go for a run every morning or that it is possible to become a captain of the women's football team to one day be on par with the men's football team. The range is limitless and that's the simple perception shift that this movement signifies.