Cannes Lions

adidas Never Follow feat. Paul Pogba

IRIS, London / ADIDAS / 2017

Presentation Image
Case Film
Demo Film






“I don’t want to be you. I just want your boots.”

For years, football brands have placed the world’s most successful players on a pedestal, suggesting that young football fans can set themselves on a path to replicate idols IF they buy their boots.

But that path is tried, tested and past its sell-by date. Kids these days are more informed, more cynical and more astute than ever. In order to truly resonate with our consumer and make this idea bigger than just the boots we’re selling, we wanted to break traditional convention, and encourage them to create for themselves.

Anyone can imitate… but only those who create have the power to stand out from the crowd. We came up with a film series to subvert the hype and adoration that surrounds professional footballers, and instead encourage young footballers to #NeverFollow… empowering them to create their own path.


The campaign launched with a film featuring the world’s most expensive footballer, Paul Pogba. Initially, he appears to be the star, telling the viewer that they will never be him. However, he’s quickly interrupted by the voice of our young male consumer: the film’s unseen hero. We gave him the confidence and power to create for himself, playfully placing him at loggerheads with Pogba.

From Pogba’s off-field swagger to on-field prowess, our consumer digitally disrupts & verbally messes with Pogba’s world and rejects the idea of imitating him.

We rolled out a series of films featuring other top-tier players and football influencers, each of whom were playfully dismissed by our mouthy consumer.

This campaign isn’t for fans. It’s for young footballers. After all, those who create, never follow.

The message from the greats is clear though – you’ll never be them, so be you.

BUT… you can still have their


With zero media spend, the video content racked up over 9 million organic views across key adidas and partner platforms.

The film content resonated with our audience as well. 95% of viewers watched through to the end, with 22% of viewers clicking through to the e-commerce product page on

That high level of viewer retention also meant our audience understood Pogba’s encouraging “You be you” reprise, ensuring our message was clear and understood. That message was well received to boot, with 97% of YouTube engagements being positive ones.

On social, the content landed with impact, generating over 40 million unique impressions and over 150,000 mentions of the #NeverFollow hashtag, helping adidas to experience a 15% social audience growth.

Product sale statistics withheld.

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2019, ADIDAS

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