For the 2010 season, adidas was going to launch new jerseys for three of Sweden’s most popular football clubs, AIK, Djugården IF and IFK Göteborg. Few people would oppose the claim that these teams are the biggest rivals in Swedish football.

This was also the first time adidas would launch jerseys through a widespread campaign for three rival clubs at the same time. The big challenge was to produce three unique campaigns for three rival clubs, but with a single communication concept ”Every team needs a shirt with a story”. It can be compared to simultaneously run campaigns for Microsoft, Apple and Google using the same concept.

To be able to convince the most fastidious, suspicious and engaged consumers, an extremely insightful campaign was needed. For a commercial actor to operate with credibility in this world, one must respect, pay close attention and be responsive towards the fans. You must also be aware when working with their team’s jersey, that you are affecting the most sacred thing in their world.

Adidas main objectives with the jersey campaign for AIK, Djurgårdens IF och IFK Göteborg was to create excitement and anticipation to push sales of the new jerseys and at the same time create a connection between adidas and the clubs’ supporters. And also to continue to spread the adidas global football campaign: ”Every team needs…” to strengthen the brand among its target audience.

Our strategy and plan
1. Launch the jerseys for AIK, Djurgårdens IF and IFK Göteborg within the communication concept of ”Every team needs a shirt with a story”.
2. Use the force from the clubs and the supporters to spread the message with high credibility – and of course create a need to purchase the jerseys.
3. Pinpoint communication towards pr, social media and retail.
The following three concepts were created for each club:

The campaign for AIK and adidas: ”COME AND GET US!
”Gold in the back. Black at mind. Keep it black”

For AIK it is all about the color black. AIK’s jersey has always been black and this season it has even fewer details, which makes it blacker than ever. In the neck you can find a golden emblem. Black is an old tradition and for AIK it represents more than a color – it’s the symbol of the club, culture and attitude. The team will start off a new season filled with confidence after the double gold win in 2009.

The campaign for Djurgårdens IF and adidas: “NO DRY JERSEYS”
”Generations of winners stand behind the shield of Stockholm’s proudest jersey”. Djurgårdens IF is one of Sweden’s largest and most classic football clubs, with a large number of supporters who are honored to stand by their club in both good and bad times. Last year, Djurgården was nearly eliminated from Sweden’s top division ”Allsvenskan”, but managed to cling on to its spot thanks to a heroic effort in the last game. Djurgården has a strong tradition of ”fighting spirit” and supporters have always loved players who never give up. The team’s most popular player – Mattias Jonsson – lives and breathes this ”fighting spirit”. The most influential Djurgården player of all times, Knivsta who played back in the 60’s, once said: ”The worst thing ever is when a player leaves the field with a dry jersey after a game.”

The campaign for IFK Göteborg and adidas: “THE NEXT CHAMPIONS!”
”The most winner’s jersey is worn with pride by the next generation of champions”
”Most winners” is a very common concept and is strongly connected to IFK Göteborg. It relates to the fact that IFK is the club with most wins in the Swedish first division. The legendary blue and white jersey symbolizes honor and success and is now worn by a group of new talents, which have been trained in IFK’s own football academy. Last year, IFK received a second spot in Sweden’s top division as well as in the Swedish cup. This season it’s time for the new generation of winners – ”The Next Champions” – to step up and lead their team to victory.
This is how we did it

The new adidas jerseys for Djurgården, AIK och IFK Göteborg were launched simultaneously.

- Sweden’s largest supporter blog, “Bara Ben” (run by IFK Göteborg fans), released blury paparazzi pictures of what looked like to be a player wearing the new jersey, three days before its launch. This created a massive discussion on the blog and the subject was also discussed in all active IFK Göteborg forums. On the date of the launch, ”Bara Ben” published a new movie, that introduced the new jersey and the next champions. The movie received over 6500 views during the first weeks.

- For AIK a movie with a Godfather theme was made, where Club Director Björn Wesström hands over jersey number 10 to the fans’ favorite Martin Mutumba. The movie and the news where exclusively released to Aftonbladet, Swedens largest paper and website, which published the news and the movie online. The news also received a full page spread in the printed version. On YouTube, the movie received 19 000 views during its first three weeks.

- Djurgården’s movie was recorded together with the great Mattias Jonsson. Mattias talks about being an underdog, being figured out, but rising up to the challenge and being aware of the payoff that ” a Djurgården player never has a dry jersey after a game.” The movie was viewed 17 000 times within three weeks and created goose bumps if you believe the supporters’ comments on YouTube.

- For both AIK and IFK Göteborg Facebook apps were created, which made it possible for fans to change their profile pictures. IFK Göteborg’s supporters could add the new jersey on their profile picture, while AIK supporters received a completely black picture. This created a visual unity, which is the closest we have ever gotten to a united supporter bench in social media. The apps were distributed by the clubs’ official fan pages on Facebook. These fan pages have nearly 75 000 members and 10 000 people changed their profile picture in the first month.

- A key activity was the ”icon pictures” that were taken to connect the clubs with the ”Every Team Needs”-concept. The whole message in the campaign would be understood through one single picture. The pictures became a symbol for the clubs to create optimism for the future and anticipation for the new season. The material has been used in a large part of the clubs’ communication during the year, as in all the communication from adidas and their retailers. This means that consumers can receive the same messages at for example Råsunda, or at Stadium.

- Each football club hosted their own launch event together with adidas. The most important player symbols were activated to meet the fans and introduce the jersey concepts. During the launch weekend, store campaigns were activated and players could meet and greet fans and sign jerseys and posters (with the icon pictures). At the same time, we ran the campaigns on the clubs’ online stores to increase sales.

- The launches were complemented with exclusive media partnerships and more traditional mailings, as well as media processing, where both the campaigns and jersey design caught the attention of target media; advertising, football and lifestyle press.

Results and outcomes

The adidas jersey campaigns received a lot of play in football media and in the supporters’ own channels during the beginning of the season with articles in Aftonbladet, Expressen, Svenska Fans and Match. There have also been massive discussion threads about the campaigns in almost every supporter forum connected to the three clubs. For example the blog ”Bara Ben” run by IFK Göteborg supporters, worked very well as a media partner. It received over 1000 comments on the articles about the new jersey.

The movies that were made for the clubs generated together over 40 000 views on YouTube during the first three weeks. During the same period, over 10 000 football fans interacted with the jersey campaign through their profile picture in social media and marketed the campaign in their own network.

These are all great figures, but the goal was not to achieve a certain number of press clippings or views. They were only tactical tools, designed to achieve the real objectives. By working side by side with the clubs and by being receptive towards the supporters, we managed to create a strong connection between adidas, the clubs and their supporters. The campaigns created a huge buzz, which resulted in increased jersey sales.

During 2010, more adidas jerseys were sold compared to sales of merchandise in all three clubs in 2009. The overall sales increase for the three club’s jerseys were 99%. 171% increase for AIK, 43% for Djurgårdens IF and 103% for IFK Göteborg.

In the articles, you can read how supporters as well as the players have embraced the adidas campaign message and made it their own. They have even taken it to the locker room. Before the season began you could read in Expressen that Djurgårdens coach Carlos Banda said: -Last season was an unfortunate journey. But we are entering the new season with great confidence. We have a clear strategy and we will follow the motto ”no dry jerseys”. The saying ”No dry jerseys” has been used as a management tool by the club to convey its new attitude, both towards the members and players. Before kick off in Sweden’s top division, Djurgården’s coach ended his inspirational speech by saying that he did not want to see a single dry jersey after the game.