Adidas is redefining Influencer Marketing through Dark Social

Adidas is taking influencer marketing to new territories. This time around Adidas has sought to change the face of influencer marketing with the launch of Tango Squads. Named after Adidas’s first football Tango Squad is communities of hyper-connected football obsessives operating on direct messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Line (dark social)

Tango Squads are communities of 16-19year old football content creators living across 15 key cities worldwide. Adidas plans to grow these squads anywhere from 100-250 people, with a maximum of 500 members per squad by 2017.

These groups will be managed in-house by Adidas and they will receive exclusive content, new products before they are unveiled on Adidas’s own social media channels. All of the content is mobile optimised, shot in portrait selfie-style to add authenticity. The squad members will be invited to special events and take part in experiences like meeting players.



“At the moment a lot of brands are approaching social media as a publishing job with pre-set and pre-defined agendas. With the Tango Squad project, we have a great opportunity. It’s a different way to produce content and speak to your communities.” – Florian Alt, Senior Director of Global Brand Communications.

This is a good strategy to experiment considering 70% of global brand referrals happen on dark social, not via Twitter or Facebook. In the day age of hyper-connection and micro-influencers, brands have the opportunity to dive deep into markets than spread wide looking for reach. Considering consumers trust peer recommendations compared to brand promotions, the squad members will bring in  longevity and authenticity, because they are real people talking real experience in a private messaging environment.

Now if you are a marketer, you will probably ask “How do we measure activity on dark social?” well that’s kinda the point here right,you can’t. You have to rely on local teams managing these communities to do some basic number crunching and measure success. It could be this is re-defining influencer marketing. It could be this becomes an Adidas insider tool for face to face communications or it could become a bad-ass loyalty programme. It could be a combination of all there. That’s the beauty of it.

What interests me more, is the evolution of influencer marketing and Adidas’s approach to invest in a long-term strategy than looking for short-term returns. I believe influence starts with trust and trust comes from having a true relationship with your audience.

The investment made in a true relationship with football fans, will definitely reap positive results given my own experience of working with influencers. Do you think it’s a good play by Adidas? Would love to hear your thoughts on this below in comments.

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