Adidas’ Equality ‘She Breaks Barriers’ Media Parity Part 2 Launched On International Women’s Day

The German sportswear giant launched its second wave of ‘She Break Barriers’ work on International Women’s Day (8 March) as it steps up its mission for equality in sport with a call for equal airtime for women’s sports via a 60-second spot and fresh @3StripesLive women’s sport streaming partnerships.


The spearhead film, ‘She Breaks Barriers: More Visibility. Bigger Dreams’, features four female adidas ambassador athletes and ESPN’s Maria Taylor calling for equal representation and equal airtime and media attention.


The four sportswomen – US Women’s National Team and Utah Royals soccer star Becky Sauerbrunn, 100m world-record holder Keni Harrison, WNBA Connecticut point guard Layshia Clarendon and marathon runner Rahaf Khatib – front a film that rolled out on 7 March to celebrate International Women’s Day (on 8 March).


They speak about why seeing women in sport is so vital as young athletes seek out female sports in the media.


The video ran across US TV and the brand’s digital and social channels.




The hero film was supported by a series of online individual athlete ambassador spots.






The International Women’s Day wave of creative drives viewers to learn more about the initiative’s on a digital platform.


Indeed, adidas invited consumers and brand fans, sports organisations and athletes across the US to join the movement and co-create solutions together and hubbed this strand of the project around a microsite at www.adidas.com/us/shebreaksbarriers that has been designed to share and spread consumers stories, ideas and solutions to co-create the future for women’s sport with adidas use #creatorsunite on social media.


Digital viewers are encouraged to sign-up and join the brand’s network and receive more ‘news about women who break barriers in sport and learn about new women’s product releases’.


The latest phase of the She Breaks Barrier project also sees Adidas team up with Intersport and Twitter on new live streaming partnerships for Women’s High School Volleyball and Women’s Soccer.


The same trio of companies linked up last year for ‘Friday Night Stripes’ (a series of eight live-streamed high-school-football games) and the new @3StripeLive series will kick-off with bringing six women’s high-school contests to Twitter in April.


The initiative follows on from adidas research showing that just 4% of USA sports media coverage is dedicated to women’s sports.


“We’re thrilled to partner with a global media company as influential as Twitter on this project,” said adidas Senior VP and brand director Kate Ridley.


“It is essential that girls have access to sport—to play it, to practice it and, yes, to watch it. If girls don’t see role models through sports media, they won’t have a reason to join or stay in sport.”


While fellow adidas Senior VP of Global Purpose Nicole Vollebregt added: “We believe she needs to see strong female role models to inspire her to pursue her dreams. As part of our continued efforts to increase visibility for women and girls in sport, we have committed to ensuring that we will have equal gender representation across our owned social channels. This is the first step in changing how we will approach content creation in the future.”


“We are really proud to be part of this movement for equality,” commented Twitter vice president of global client solutions Sarah Personette.


“Through this partnership with Adidas and Intersport, we are collectively bringing this first-of-its kind women’s sports series to Twitter. Pairing these live games with the conversation on Twitter will provide young fans an avenue to see and discuss what’s happening around the sports they love.”


The campaign, part of Adidas’s continued commitment to raise awareness of issues and break down the barriers that stand between girls and sport (including a lack of access, negative stereotypes, visibility and inequality), initially broke in December 2018.


It sets out adidas’ mission to ‘level the field’: because the brand believes ‘that through sport we have the power to change lives, but there are too many obstacles standing between girls and sports’.


‘She Breaks Barriers’, which runs under and continues to drive the umbrella adidas #creatorsunite platform (launched in August 2018), is multi-faceted initiative is designed to inspire, enable and support the next generation of female athletes, creators and leaders.


It launched in December with a hero film featuring some of adidas’ most influential female and male athletes narrated with musician Pharrell Williams which debuted during a 9 December NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecast.


Adidas – She Breaks Barriers from Hook and Line Music on Vimeo.


This was supported by an adidas open letter to its employees, stakeholders, partners and communities around the US that called on everyone to join the effort and together, level the playing field and co-create the future of women’s sport.


The project also includes a series of new partnerships with three areas of focus; to provide access, to remove stereotypes, and to address the inequality for female athletes at all levels and ages.


Adidas linked up with the Global Sport Institute (GSI) at Arizona State University to ‘identify existing barriers to sport for women, examine how to overcome the barriers and explore what equality means for women in sport across opportunity and pay’.


The German based sportswear also started a three-part initiative with Texas A&M college students to explore, expose, uncover and solve the barriers to sport that exist for women on campus.


While a parallel set of six projects in New York and Los Angeles (two of adidas’ key global key cities) have been set up to co-create solutions to remove barriers for women and girls in sport at the community level.


Adidas also committed to leverage its sponsorship of the Women’s National Football Conference (WNFC) to support women playing, coaching and the development of professional women’s football.


Plus adidas penned a partnership with Jen Welter, the NFL’s first female coach, to co-host girls’ flag football camps across the US in 2019 and explore ways to increase access to the sport for young girls.


While adidas also signed up as a national partner of ‘Girls on the Run’ from 2019 through to 2021 with the objective of boosting the brand’s commitment to break barriers to sport for women and girls by inspiring them to boldly pursue their dreams through the power of sport via a range of touchpoints (including by providing apparel and footwear, co-hosting 5K events across the US).


“We believe that through sport, we have the power to change lives. As a brand we want everyone to have equal access to sport. Unfortunately, research tell us girls today are 1.5x more likely than boys to drop out of sport. This is unacceptable as we know that sport builds confidence, ensuring that female athletes win on and off the field,” said adidas Group Executive Board Member and Head of Global Brands Eric Liedtke at the December project launch.


“We’re starting a new program that will inspire and enable girls to join and stay in sport. By removing barriers to sports we aim to help shape the next generation of female athletes and leaders. We’ll leverage our partners to find locally relevant solutions in our communities around the world. This is an exciting day for us as a brand.”


The project follows adidas research that showed by age 14 girls are dropping out of sport 1.5x faster than boys and by age 17, 51% of girls who participated in sport have quit because ‘they do not have a sense that they belong, and they don’t see a future in sport’.


The study found that 73% of US adults believe that high schools and colleges provide better support for boys’ sports programs than girls sports program]


This data demonstrates how vital it is to remove barriers in sport and inspired and convinced adidas to commit to providing the same opportunities for girls that are offered to boys.


Another relevant, recent study by the EY Women Athletes Business Network and ESPNW showed that 94% of women executives in the C-suite played sport and 52% played at the university level or higher. Thus demonstrating that one of the many benefits of participating in sport includes teaching girls to be more confident and learn valuable leadership skills that help them later on in their lives.


Adidas also announced on IWD that it will pay equal bonuses to any adidas players who win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup as their male counterparts.





Inclusion and equality remains a hot topic in the sportswear business and across the sporting and sports marketing landscape.


Indeed, it was only back in November 2018 that Footwear News reported complaints from Adidas employees about opportunities for people of colour, while other reports about a toxic workplace at rival Nike also came to the fore around a year ago. In November and the Wall Street Journal also reported that some male employees at Under Armour behaved inappropriately with female subordinates.


Each of the three giants of the sector reiterate firmly that they have zero tolerance for discrimination and, like the previous week’s Nike launch of the Serena Williams narrated ‘Dream Crazier’ campaign (see case study), this adidas campaign is a powerful creative response.


Indeed, adidas is just one of a slew of brands running campaigns and initiatives that push for change to mark International Women’s Day.


Others include Amazon (Amazon launched a programme called ‘Amplify’ to boost gender diversity and inclusion), P&G brand Always (which continued with its mission to #EndPeriodPoverty with a month-long donation campaign), PayPayl (which, as part of International Women’s Day’s own #BalanceforBetter campaign, launched a film featuring female business leaders discussing their experiences and ideas on how to bring gender balance into the workplace),



and Diageo (which launched a short film aiming to drive gender equality in its advertising that explores the role of advertising in shaping culture, the historic misrepresentation of women, and strategies and partnerships to support more progressive gender portrayal in content).











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