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Like, Is This For Real?

March 4, 2010

I came across an article with a headline guaranteed to catch the eye:  “Adidas Enlists Jedi Master Yoda to Fight Recession.”

I was in a literal mood when I read that and pictured a board room with everyone wearing brown robes and using The Force to make everything all better.

But that’s not what it is.  I read on and found that my expectation was more logical than the reality.  The article talked about Adidas launching a new line of shoes and “lifestyle” products with various kinds of Star Wars connections.  There are Princess Leia sneakers, Darth Vader jackets (with a detachable cape) and something called Stormtrooper track tops.

How many times have you paused in the middle of the day and thought, You know what’s missing from my life?  A Darth Vader jacket with a detachable cape.

In a further twist, the article explained that the new line of clothing was launched by rapper Snoop Dogg.  Maybe that’s why Nike hasn’t fired Tiger Woods yet.  At least Tiger Woods doesn’t have multiple arrests and isn’t banned from England.

I understand Adidas’s logic.  In an attempt to boost sales in the face of a global recession, they have linked their product with Star Wars.

But I thought that one of the aspects of global recession is that people are unemployed, or their jobs may be less secure and that is why they aren’t buying things.  People are limiting their spending to just the essentials.

So the question is, if Adidas’s sales are down because people are curtailing their spending, are Star Wars shoes and sports clothing going to prove sufficiently ‘essential’ that people will open their wallets?

It’s too early to tell because this stuff has just been introduced, but the market reaction seems to think people will buy.

And why is that, you ask.  The president of Lucas Licensing (yes, they have a whole company devoted to licensing stuff) explains:  “Star Wars is about hope.  It embraces the idea that one person can make a difference.  It is a vehicle for personal empowerment.”

A vehicle for personal empowerment? I think of a tank when I hear that.

Anyway, I guess the idea is that if you are worried about the economy, your job or the future in general, and you hope things will get better, you just fork out 200 bucks for a “Star Wars Famous Scenes Micropacer Shoe.” And then you will be empowered.  You will have made a difference.

The only difference you will have made is transferring money from your pocket to Adidas’s.

If $200 seems too much, you can get something called the “Yoda Boat Shoe.”  They cost only $125, no doubt in keeping with Yoda’s more austere image.  I’m a little hazy on my Star Wars but I didn’t know there was a connection between Yoda and boats.  Does he retire and get a yacht on the Riviera?

The reason that Adidas is doing all this, according to a market research guy, is “to reach a wider audience.”  I understand those words, but they don’t stand up to scrutiny.  “A wider audience” implies that there was already a group of people out there who have been walking around barefoot because they’ve been waiting for Star Wars Famous Scene shoes.

But then I did a little research of my own and found out how out of touch I am.  The social networking websites are abuzz with people raving about their new Star Wars/Adidas stuff.

Just Google Adidas Star Wars and you will feel the empowerment!  There is even aweb site that you can check out here that figures out where you are in the world, shows a bunch of Death Star scenes (with the obligatory heavy breathing by Darth Vader) and then zeroes in on the Google Earth view of your city and zaps an Adidas logo into it with the Death Star laser beam.

Is that cool or what?

Although I am totally incapable of getting excited about this whole concept, it really seems to have helped some people move up on the Maslow hierarchy.  For example, someone points out that “this new collection seamlessly fuses inspiration from legendary Star Wars characters and scenes with iconic Adidas Originals silhouettes.”

Shoes and outer space?  How can that fusion be seamless?  I don’t get it.

But even more scary is this observation:  “Each pair of shoes comes packaged in a plastic blister pack on cardboard, much in the same vein as the classic Star Wars toys, which really adds an extra bit of nostalgia.”

Now that is a leap I am not prepared to make.  As an adult I’m supposed to buy an overpriced pair of shoes because they come in a package that reminds me of a toy I got when I was little?  Who remembers stuff like that?  And who makes buying decisions on that basis?

I’ve got to believe that a company like Adidas has access to some of the best market research and brand consultants around.  So I’ve also got to believe that they know what they are doing and that this product offering and marketing campaign will pay off.

And that scares me more than Darth Vader.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Gail permalink
    March 6, 2010 9:51 am

    Tom, it is obvious that we are in different countries. Your comment about people spending on the “essentials” reminds me of a lass I know who spends every Friday night at the pokies, has a top of the line T.V. and all the essential attachments, but couldn’t afford home insurance. Murphys law – the house burned down and she would be out on the streets except that she has now moved back with Mum – and yes she still spends every Friday night at the pokies. Not an isolated case. G.

  2. March 23, 2010 8:20 am

    “How many times have you paused in the middle of the day and thought, You know what’s missing from my life? A Darth Vader jacket with a detachable cape.”

    I never actually stop to think about it because I just think about it all day long.

  3. Mary permalink
    April 15, 2010 4:47 am

    I’m with you Tom. There are too many important things to worry about in the world. But then, I’m not in the demographic they are marketing to. I’m in the demographic that wouldn’t buy the products because they are so hyped up with Star Wars and Snoop Dog. I’ll let you know if I see the grandkids sporting the new shoes!


    • April 19, 2010 8:37 pm

      Hi Mary–thanks for the comment and good to see you. I’m in the same demographic as you–I figure Tiger Woods is rich enough without me contributing by buying overpriced Nike shoes!

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