Cannes Lions

The Official Leak of the adidas World Cup Kits

TBWA\LONDON, London / ADIDAS / 2023

Presentation Image
Supporting Images
Supporting Images






How do you take the ultimate patriotic product – the World Cup football shirts of national teams – and sell them to a generation that doesn’t do patriotism or that’s not particularly morally aligned to the location of the latest World Cup... Qatar? Our brief was to successfully launch adidas’s 2022 World Cup kits. Our KPIs were to create interest (search), to drive fans to the brand’s e-commerce site to buy team shirts (.com visits).


Leak don’t launch.

Instead of launching adidas’ 2022 World Cup kits, we leaked them, tapping into an already huge phenomenon in football culture. We hid each of our nations’ kits in plain sight, in the places Gen Z hangout. Influencers and talent from each of our markets either wore their team’s shirt or featured it subtly in their social content to be discovered. From not one, but two, of Japan’s biggest mangas to a barbershop in Argentina, the leaks had fans everywhere wondering, ‘@adidas are these kits legit?’. This was the official leak of the adidas World Cup kits.


Our key target were Gen Z football fans. Our research (via Neilsen, Facebook Insights and other tools) showed us that they embody a new kind of attitude to the sport, and to the world they live in. They’re not like other football fans. They watch replays and highlights, rather than whole matches. They want personal stories rather than traditional news-style coverage. They don’t live, sleep, breathe the beautiful game. There’s more to them. They love music, food, gaming, fashion, expressing themselves in multiple different ways.

Our insight was ‘Gen Z first, nationality second’. However, we were selling national football shirts; this was the paradox at the heart of the brief. So for the 2022 World Cup, we ripped up the rulebook and used the global stage as a place to set Gen Z’s identities free.


Instead of a big-budget mega-launch, we hid the kits in plain sight, in places Gen Z hangout within each market.

Argentina: @martindardik had his hair cut by the national team’s favourite barber, who wore the away shirt.

Japan: The kits appeared in two of the nation’s biggest mangas.

Belgium: At Tomorrowland, @dimitrivegas rocked the away shirt on the mainstage.

Spain: @DjMaRiiO and @TheGrefg, wore both shirts during a game of FIFA22 over Twitch.

Mexico: The taquero of @larutadelagarnacha’s favourite taqueria wore the away shirt on a day the vlogger routinely stops by.

Germany: On TikTok, @pajel.46 shared his new track while wearing the new home shirt.

Football fans immediately started questioning whether the shirts were real. Even Messi commented that he hadn’t managed to get his hands on the kit yet. We allowed speculation to run rife, before finally revealing on adidas’ social channels that the shirts were legit.


Overall, the campaign created astonishing levels of hype and interest. More than this, adidas managed to significantly outperform Nike across all major campaign measures. This was a huge feat considering adidas had only half the number of teams in the tournament.

6.13 million impressions.

347,000 social media reactions.

A 13% increase in adidas search volume – overtaking the bigger, better-funded market leader Nike 1.7 times over.

On social, adidas garnered 7.6X more social mentions than Nike.

0 paid media.

As a publicly quoted company, adidas doesn't release the specifics of their kit sales. However, we can share the data from one market which showed that in the pre-tournament period, sales of this particular kit were 300% higher than in the same period in the previous World Cup.

Similar Campaigns

12 items

Recode Running, an original adidas series

LORE, Amsterdam

Recode Running, an original adidas series

2019, ADIDAS

(opens in a new tab)