If you’re a fan of American basketball and spend a lot of time watching videos on YouTube, then it is highly likely you saw “the return of D. Rose”. Adidas #TheReturn was a series of online videos launched by the international sports brand Adidas. The series aimed to document the return and rehabilitation of the star point guard and sneaker pitchman Derrick Rose from an almost career ending knee injury. In terms of the implementation of the campaign similarities can be drawn to Nike’s #RiseAbove campaign from the 2012 London Olympics.
For most brands, one of their top sponsored athletes falling victim to an almost career ending injury, would be a nightmare and a PR fiasco. However Adidas utilised the injury as a way of building support for both the brand and Rose as he underwent recovery from the injury and prepared to make a comeback. Adidas’ manager for social media marketing, Ryan Morlan commented, “we felt a responsibility to let fans feel like they’re a part of this process.”
Rose regarded by many as one of the brightest upcoming young basketball stars, ripped his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), in the opening game of the season. The social media campaign was launched through a series of online documentary style videos through the Adidas basketball YouTube channel.
The advertising campaign was extremely successful and generated high levels of engagement with users on Twitter. Taking the 30 day period between August 25th to September 26th 2012 the campaign received over 45 000 individual mentions of the hashtag #TheReturn on the platform. Significant interaction with the campaign was achieved through tweets from the Derrick Rose official Twitter page. The high levels of user interaction with the campaign initially spiked with the tweet from Rose: Praying for my city man… #TheReturn. The tweet gained a respectable 6507 retweets, however the momentum continued. A further two tweets from the Rose account garnered yet more support for Adidas #TheReturn. The second tweet announced Rose’s excitement at the release of his new Adidas pro model trainer.
However the lynchpin of the Adidas #TheReturn campaign was without a doubt the YouTube based videos, which generated huge levels of interaction and conversation. A spike in the conversation of the #The Return centred on the launch of the second episode in the series on September 9th. The spike accounted for over 2500 out of 3700 tweet based mentions of #TheReturn. The second episode firmly placed #TheReturn as a trending topic. Popularity and support for the campaign grew with the release of the third episode. It was released on September 19th, which marked a further increase in mentions and generated over 2600 individual conversations on Twitter.
Based on trends and reports conducted on the campaign, it is clear that Rose was both the subject and the driving force behind the Adidas campaign. There is no doubt that #TheReturn was an overwhelming success and stands to demonstrate the scope for social media as a forum for brand promotion and advertisement campaigns.