Need to Know
- Adidas is growing its partnership with WhatsApp by launching a major direct marketing campaign.
- Facebook-owned WhatsApp does not allow brands to run ads but does allow brands to engage fans through its chat function
- WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion active users across 180 countries.
- Over three million businesses use WhatsApp to connect with customers.
While ads are still not allowed on WhatsApp, Adidas is using the popular messaging app as a tool for direct marketing and a new way to create highly-engaged customer communities.
Since 2015, Adidas has been using WhatsApp to chat directly with customers, in an effort to grow influence organically. Most recently, the sportswear brand has been ramping up its marketing strategy by using the app as the main platform for global campaigns.
WhatsApp is a mobile messaging app that is used as a tool to chat with friends who also have the app, no matter where they are in the world or what kind of smartphone they have. Though Facebook owns WhatsApp, the social media giant does not allow advertising on the app, which has resulted in brands getting creative with how they use it to engage customers.
For example, Netflix sends movie and TV recommendations via WhatsApp to users in India, and KLM airlines sends passengers flight updates and booking information.
Adidas is using the app by engaging influencers, athletes, and other brands to operate as “salespeople” to promote their products. In a recent UK campaign, Adidas opened up a chat hotline for fans in need of a football player to cover for unreliable teammates on their team. Adidas-sponsored players would then show up to the games of successful winners decked out in Adidas’ newest footwear.
“It’s allowed us to build direct relationships with a smaller community of influential people in an ongoing way that doesn’t feel transactional and allows for a conversation, rather than just a broadcast,” said Laura Coveney, managing editor for Adidas’ newsroom in London.
It’s no surprise that brands are eager to use WhatsApp to engage a new fan base. WhatsApp is a hugely popular app, with 1.5 billion active users in 180 countries. WhatsApp Business launched in 2018, which now allows over three million companies to engage their fan base. Businesses can also track statistics such as the number of messages read and user engagement allowing the companies to inform a stronger business strategy.
“The open rates for messages in WhatsApp will be ‘immensely’ higher than message platforms’ closest competitor, email,” said James Whatley, strategy partner at Digitas U.K.
Rather than investing more money in ads, Adidas is exploring ways to engage organically with its most loyal fans, and exploring WhatsApp is just one avenue in Adidas’ effort to innovate with popular platforms.
The fashion brand has also partnered with Spotify, allowing the music streaming service to “tap into a phone’s accelerometer while someone was out for a jog, calculate a stride rate, then mine Spotify’s content to find songs with the correct BPM and intensity to match the pace of the run.”
Added Whatley, “The brands that get this right will be the ones that understand just how private message platforms are and how privileged they are to be invited in.”