Not easy being Green – Adidas vs Nike – Marketing spoiler

Not easy being Green – Adidas vs Nike – Marketing spoiler. Marketing analysis by Eleonora de Gray, Editor-in-Chief of RUNWAY MAGAZINE.

In last several years sneakers became a statement. And they became much more than just fashion statement. Sneakers got so many names starting from “runners”, than “trainers”, even “kicks” and “slorps”.

Today sneakers became the number one on the “most wanted” list, happily replacing high heels for busy business life of men and women. There’s known “Stiletto” capsule collection of Converse, one of the leading producers of stylish sneakers. The competing Vanes came out with platforms and funny characters from famous 90s cartoon series like Simpsons.

Converse and Adidas high heels and stilettos by RUNWAY MAGAZINE
Converse and Adidas high heels and stilettos by RUNWAY MAGAZINE

As far as loved Bugs Bunny goes the marketing concept of two these competing companies is quiet simple and straight forward: arty famous drawings and favorite cartoon characters, licensed to represent these brands for all styles and occasions.

Adidas and Nike are set for much more complicated and profound marketing concept.

2020 was a special year when we all imagined that world got reset to “zero”. And many fashion production companies tried to “think responsible” and “green”, do-greeners, proposing various ecological concepts. Thousands “responsible”, traceable and recyclable products came on the market with one Eco-concept. They were not really traceable and sometimes not recyclable at all, but the new social idea had indeed created a lots of talks around.

In meanwhile Adidas and Nike created fabulous Eco-projects and 2 different marketing strategies.

Marketing strategy is a plan of action designed to promote and sell a product or service. Usually it is more complicated than taking pictures with Iphone of cute girl or boy you know and putting them on social media networks, buying fake followers and likes. Majority of the brands today are still using this primitive and quiet useless method they call strategy to present their products to public with hope to sell.

Without further ado, I’d like to give a spoiler of marketing strategies introduced by Nike and Adidas.

Marketing spoiler – Nike marketing strategy for new eco-concept “Move to Zero”

Nike’s Move to Zero statement: “Move to zero is Nike’s journey toward zero carbon and zero waste to help protect the future of sport. With move to zero, Nike is committing to an approach to achieve zero waste and a zero carbon footprint in order to protect the future of sport.“

Nike created a spectacular recycling machines, showing how made their production, showing traceable and eco-friendly products, great expositions in all flag-stores. Nike created a club, inviting everybody to subscribe, proposing special discounts and make capsule collections available earlier than to general public. This forms circle of brand lovers and buyers, with much greater possibilities to involve members to all social actions and activities of the brand. This is very good way to create the need, the interest and desire to buy. “Exclusive” concept of this club promoted widely by Nike, as it is perfect tool for massive engagement of the public.

Nike Move to Zero eco-concept by RUNWAY MAGAZINE
Nike Move to Zero eco-concept by RUNWAY MAGAZINE

For the new eco-concept Nike invited members of the club to participate and re-create the sneakers from reusable materials and used sneakers, promoting the brand and the new eco-concept. And the best sneakers exposed in all flag-stores of the Nike. This massive involvement, engaging creativity of the club members, organized expositions in the flag-sores gave immense boost and popularity of the eco-conept of Nike. And as a result involved more and more members interested in participation in this project.

This is a very successful marketing strategy to drive engagement in the eco-concept and the brand. And this is a perfect example of the marketing strategy to trigger urgency in calls-to-actions of the brand.

Marketing spoiler – Adidas marketing strategy for “End Plastic Waste”

Adidas started several eco-responsible projects. “Eco CO2” (low-carbon-footprint sneaker).

This is a new step to eliminate plastic waste. Already in 2015, with a partnership with the NGO Parley for the Oceans, Adidas presented the first shoes partially made from yarns and from recycled marine plastic waste.

The New line of the eco-sneakers made from a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) of a particular type and assembled without glue, top polluting, but by a heat welding process.

Adidas eco-statment: “Plastic today. A problem tomorrow. As we continue to address our overall carbon footprint, we’re shifting to using 100% recycled polyester in our products by 2024. This is bigger than sports, this is for our future. We’re changing how we create by moving towards circular systems of returning and remaking. Products you won’t need to throw away.”

Adidas Not Easy being green eco-concept by RUNWAY MAGAZINE
Adidas Not Easy being green eco-concept by RUNWAY MAGAZINE

Adidas launched several lines of the eco-products: ​PrimeGreen, PrimeBlue, Vegan, Better Cotton, and my personal favorite “Adidas Stan Smith Forever” with special edition “Not Easy Being Green”.

Perhaps for younger generation this concept presented by Kermit and other green characters like Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc, Tinker Bell from Peter Pen doesn’t mean more than just green characters related to the ecology trough color, who are saying that this is not easy to keep planet green.

In fact it is so much more, and the genius marketing concept “Not Easy Being Green” has profound roots in cultural symbols related to the American history of XX century. Well, adding additional green characters gave a blur to the main concept.

Adidas Originals End Plastic Waste STAN SMITH, FOREVER

Let’s dig, shall we?

This is one of the most successful eco-concepts, and not only for Adidas. Of course this concept reunited previous eco-products of Adidas, involving public to participate by bringing plastic bottles to the machines installed in all Adidas flag-stores, recycle them, and get special gifts, including Stan Smith pair of sneakers of course.

What makes this concept “Not Easy Being Green” so successful? Symbolism behind Kermit character from Sesame Street, symbolism behind his phrase “Not easy being green” he said for the first time in 1970, related to the cultural events, even hidden symbolism behind the connotation of the green color.

Kermit the frog - Not easy being green - Muppet sing alongs by RUNWAY MAGAZINE
Kermit the frog – Not easy being green – Muppet sing alongs by RUNWAY MAGAZINE

The famous phrase of Kermit “Not Easy Being Green” was actually a song, written in 1970 by Joe Raposo for the first season of Sesame Street show. And was not at all about the ecology.

This song became wildly popular in 1980s. Kermit became one of the most loved characters, he had posters, books, CDs of best of Kermit. Thinking about kids? Not at all, he was loved by the adults. As well as Mrs Piggy was never a character for the kids, she was a hot chic, a rock star, no less.

Back to Kermit. In the song “Not Easy Being Green” he expressed the feelings of being undervalued and overlooked because he was green. And here is of course a color connotation.

Back down the memory lane, let’s see the lyrics:

“It’s not easy being green. It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.
It’s not that easy being green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold-
or something much more colorful like that.
It’s not easy being green.
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.
And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water- or stars in the sky.
But green’s the color of Spring.
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like the ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree.
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder?
Why Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful!
And I think it’s what I want to be.”

It is sounds simple… Does it really? So in this song green associates with “ordinary things”, which “people tend to pass… over”. Let’s add here, secondary things. These are not just the feelings related to self-search or identity search.

Green Book - travel Guide for African-Americans by Victor Hugo Green 1936-1966
Green Book – travel Guide for African-Americans by Victor Hugo Green 1936-1966

Green color associated since the beginning of XX century with Green Book, a special guide for African-Americans. For someone who remembers the history in USA that was the time when African-Americans couldn’t visit the same hotels, restaurants as other people. So “The Negro Motorist Green Book” was an annual guidebook for African-American roadtrippers. It was originated and published by African-American New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966. That’s how this book got the name “Green”, and that is how green color started to have profound symbolism in American culture.

But it’s not just that. In 1960s another green character added meaning to the green. Famous, and very green Grinch, who stole the Christmas, by beloved Dr. Seuss (the pen name of political cartoonist Ted Geisel).

Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas! famous book by RUNWAY MAGAZINE
Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas! famous book by RUNWAY MAGAZINE

Purportedly, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” was inspired by the notion of unrecognizable humanity. Whoville (the perfect village in the story) represents a sense of community and inclusion, from which Grinch is excluded. With their love for Christmas and warmth towards each other, the Whoville represents the hopeful potential for people to live happily together with a shared communal spirit. But this community excluded everything different, and specifically people of green color (connotation to Green Book). Grinch was excluded because he was green, impolite, and rude.

So, no easy being green, hah?

Kermit came with this song in 1970s, continuing the historically formed meaning of the color.

Adidas Not Easy Being Green - Kermit and Grinch by RUNWAY MAGAZINE
Adidas Not Easy Being Green – Kermit and Grinch by RUNWAY MAGAZINE

So bringing this “Not easy being green” symbolism in the new advertising campaign Adidas had huge success among 4 generations. Let’s add here the link Adidas made with this symbolism and ecology. It’s not just about the green planet, it’s about Human ecology, man’s collective interaction with his environment / community, which should definitely be harmonious even for everybody who feels himself as green!

Read also “GREEN color – History and Values”, an article by Guillaumette Duplaix, Executive Director of RUNWAY MAGAZINE, describes values and symbolism of GREEN color, different possibilities to create GREEn color in print and fabrics, and different facts which create superstisious of GREEN color and the polar differences in the interpretation.