Adidas deal puts Kanye in a champions league of his own

The West/Kardashian road show has more than a wedding to celebrate

 

Two major media events took place last Saturday. Kanye West married Kim Kardashian in Florence, and Real Madrid beat Atlético Madrid in the Champions League final in Lisbon. There is an important connection. Just as Kanye got up to give his speech, Adidas was premiering its swanky new World Cup video during the half-time ad break for the big game.

The Dream: All In or Nothing is a slick, impressive video, directed by the acclaimed Fernando Meirelles (City of God) and featuring a footballing A-list of Adidas “ambassadors”. Lionel Messi falls asleep and dreams of glory while Luis Suarez, Dani Alves, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Robin van Persie and Mesut Ozil all look sweaty and focused.

The promo clip for the so-called “Adidas World Cup” has a massive global reach, and it features a new track by Kanye West, God Level, on the soundtrack. It’s a marketing dream. The man at the wedding of the year releasing a new track for a promo for the sporting event of the year; events in Florence and Lisbon were seamlessly linked by the Adidas dollar.

Now, Kanye West knows next to nothing about “soccer”. He told me once that despite being brought up by a radical Black Panther father, he was always more interested in fashion than he was in either politics or sport – although he does know his basketball.

This matters not a jot to the marketing penetration push for the upcoming World Cup. Kanye is the man of the moment, and Adidas getting his first new track since last year’s Yeezus (and on his wedding day!) is significant because it helps the company mop up the “non-soccer” demographic.

Kanye used to be signed to Nike, and he made the company a fortune through his Air Yeezy sneaker line. But Nike wouldn’t pay him royalties on each sneaker sale, so Adidas moved in – Man City style – by offering a £10 million signing fee plus royalties.

Adidas knows music: as far back as 1986 the company saw the rising hip-hop/fashion tide and signed Run DMC to a $1 million deal. It also just signed Pharrell Williams. Both he and West are expected to have new Adidas product in the shops before the World Cup begins.

Lest we forget the new song itself, God Level is drum-heavy with scant lyrics, similar in feel to Black Skinhead. The full version will be released just before – you guessed it – the launch of the World Cup.

There was a time (do tell, Granddad) when the crassness of a credible musical artist releasing a song to do the shill for a sportswear company would have attracted scorn and derision. But West entered into the music marketplace just as the ceiling was falling in. He’s clued-in enough to know that, these days, a pair of limited-edition, celebrity-designed and endorsed sneakers has more pop culture impact than a bunch of tinny MP3 downloads.

As some measure of how hip-hop idols have now impacted on the sporting merchandise world, Nike – which is furious with the exposure Kanye is getting for Adidas – has now ditched its rather quaint policy of hiring actual athletes to promo its wares.

When Kanye left on that big-money transfer, Nike immediately signed up Drake as its new brand ambassador. Drake may be a huge and impressive name, but he has nowhere near the celebrity wattage of Kanye West.

Just remember: the “Adidas World Cup” is being brought to you in association with Kanye West.

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