Adidas Takes a Shot at Under Armour With an Ad About Creativity, Not Just Hard Work

Aaron Rodgers, Von Miller among stars of new spot

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Playing a sport well, and becoming a career athlete, doesn't just mean you've studied a list of plays, stuck to a workout regimen and mastered exactly how something should be done, though that's certainly a part of it.

It means you've done all that and found creative ways to make the game your own. 

That's what this high-energy Adidas spot from 72andSunny says, arguing that it is the sports brand for creative athletes—unlike say, Under Armour. Yes, the copy for the new work seems to take a swipe at UA, which has been pitching itself as the brand for athletes serious about training.

"Yeah, yeah, hard work and dedication. But that's not enough. You look at this cookie-cutter, copy-and-paste BLAH," the narrator says as the frenetic camerawork—which is the real star of the spot—moves from football fields to basketball courts with what seems to be a reference to Under Armour's "Rule Yourself" and its hundreds of copies of Stephen Curry. 

It's funny, though. For a campaign arguing for creativity, Adidas seems to be cribbing from its two major competitors. The Under Armour references serve as the advertising version of a subtweet, which is fun and arguably works for what the brand is intending. But the freewheeling, opinionated voiceover, whether intentionally or not, feels a lot like what Nike's been doing lately, and that doesn't seem to gel with the ad's core argument. 

The ad, which will debut during tonight's NFL season opener on NBC—the Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos, in a rematch of Super Bowl 50—is meant to serve as "a rallying cry for athletes everywhere to tap into their imagination and embrace and utilize creativity in sports," according to an Adidas spokeswoman. 

Of course, it helps to show athletes who exemplify that point. That's why the spot features Von Miller of the Denver Broncos, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs, Paul Pogba of Manchester United, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Moriah Jefferson of the San Antonio Stars, Brandon Ingram of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics and Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets.

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@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.