SHINING IN ADIDAS

Adidas… when I got the offer confirmation I just couldn’t believe it.

I still remember the pressure I was feeling: in 4th year, my final year at university, I had everyone around me talking about job applications. Most of them, not getting into the jobs they wanted, ended up settling for jobs that were… mediocre. The perspective of begging for a medium size company in London paying me 20k a year when the living cost would leave me with no profit did not sound like a good choice for me. Yet that’s what everyone did because they were to scared to set the bar higher.

I always had my standards. Heck, a 40h desk job was never my aim but I knew the importance of having a major name backing you up. It definitely helps going straight in a big multinational after graduation because then people generally agree that you are “worth something”. After that you can leave and do your own thing but you gain credibility if you play by the rules for a little while.

Well… I didn’t get into any big multinationals.

I had the opportunity to stay in Exeter 9 months more before finally landing the crazy opportunity to work in Adidas’ Global HQ in Germany.

I was ecstatic.

Finally my choice of not accepting mediocrity paid off and all the whispering around my situation finally ceased and became fake compliments, but truly admiration.

Proving to people that they underestimated me has always been one of my biggest pleasures in life. Luckily for me I am addicted to it and, as I raise the bar higher, I push myself more and realize that the boundaries are only mental constructs we were put in our mind in order to perform 100000 times less well than what we could.

When I received that adidas contract, I could see myself 4 years back in disbelief. If you read my first post, the Francesca from the past would have never guessed what cool outcome I would have won.

So yes, my first experience after graduation was working for a huge multinational which focuses on sport, health and apparel.

I was buzzing.

In hindsight, I can tell you confidently that it was just the beginning of my crazy adidas adventure.

Let’s start from the beginning.

I was asked to work for the Marketing department of Basketball and Heartbeat-sports for Western Europe. That meant I was tightly involved in the marketing stunts adidas was pulling off for Bball as well as 10 other sports including swim, tennis, rugby, weightlifting, handball… What a journey.

At first, I was asked the usual excel stuff. A lot of competitive analysis and help with the merchandising.

Then, I moved into the Brand Activation team, in which I was helping more the Senior Manager of Brand activation to manage adidas’ multi million investment of 3 major events in Berlin, Milan and Paris.

I learned so much about project management through this and the Senior Manager was top notch as he took extra time to explain to me everything in detail and help me learn as much as I could, even though he was 90% of the time stressed.

However I have learned one thing during my career journey: always go the extra mile. Every time I get into a job, I always need to make sure to come out of it with a success story. This meant that what I was asked by the Senior Manager was not enough. I needed to create my own project and do what it took to complete it without compromising my homework given by my line manager, Kashisan, and the Senior Manager of Brand Activation.

Before even entering the WoS campus (adidas’ offices), I already pin pointed what my goal was: there is this stage adidas uses in order to invite huge celebrities and athletes to come talk to the company. It has had Messi, Pharrell, Karl Kloss, Beckam, Harden and all sorts of people stepping on it. I wanted to give a talk on it too. I don’t know how but I would manage.

I did what I did during my placement year at nal von minden: I observed the adidas communication channels and identified what could be done better.

The website was an obvious choice, as well as the paid Facebook ads. The format was just too boring and standard, it hurt my eyes and any eyes of someone born after 1995. I wanted to change, to improve, to upgrade adidas. But how?

First, I researched competitors and other brands from other industries in order to put together a simple and effective presentation.

Then, I stalked everyone in the company who seemed to have a role in that area and asked for a quick coffee date.

I did this until I bumped into the Senior Director of Insights and Data Analysis and he changed the game. He was such a big dog and gave me loads of tips on how to move. He even told me that I could present my idea on the stage if I wanted to, to gain more insight.

And just like that, within a month, I fulfilled my fantasy, my one goal on being on that stage, without actually doing anything.

By accomplishing that fantasy so soon, I was left with nothing.

My dream of changing the adidas website quickly became my new goal and fantasy. Therefore I did not stop there. I did not content myself of making a presentation to “propose” my idea, I wanted to implement it. But how?

I must say I got lucky: around that same time, my department had a new Senior Vice President of Brand for Western Europe (huge deal). As a consequence, certain people from Western Europe were allowed to go on a breakfast with him in order to “talk about issues they may have”. This invitation was obviously not forwarded to me. But I decided to go on one anyway.

But how? By befriending his secretary. For two weeks, I went over to her, was polite, and introduced myself. Little by little she got used to my face and eventually I asked her if it was possible to include me in one of the intimate breakfasts so that I could present my ideas that would definitely help adidas. I had to pitch a bit but I got a yes.

That same week, I was lucky enough not only to have a breakfast with the Senior VP, but it was a breakfast with only one more person, meaning I had extra time to pitch instead of 3min!! Luck was on my side, but you also create your own luck by just going for it.

He loved the idea.

Before you know it, he put me in contact with the right teams in Amsterdam which have access to the back end of the website and boom, I had a deal: they would allow me to add things on some specific pages of the website but I only had 1 week to give them the material.

Mission impossible, but challenge accepted.

As soon as the phone was down, I mobilized as many interns and colleagues as possible to be part of a photoshoot. They needed to invest or borrow some adidas clothes that are present on the website and come for a 3h shooting.

I managed to convince a photographer to take the pictures and edit them for free and eventually boom, I had a whole deck of pics.

Then, I created the PDF explaining how I wanted my pictures and text to be displayed and used, and everything was sent within a week to Amsterdam.

They told me they would test my version and website pages, as well as ads for 2 weeks and get back to me with the results.

3 weeks later, the email came, and here is the screenshot:

Yes, you read right: 127% increase in conversions!!!!!

UNREAL!!!!!

Not only that, but to thank me they put a few on my test pictures on the website and tagged my Instagram!!! UN-FREAKING-REAL!!!! And here was my reaction of course:

Honestly words couldn’t describe how illuminating this experience was.

It is crazy how a little employee like me can make such a difference in the ocean.

It is crazy how the limitations we are given are all fiction and that you literally need to try.

It is crazy how the sentence “freedom relies in discipline” is.

I was congratulated by the Senior VP and by my own Senior Director who said in front of the whole adidas Europe “we will follow your leadership”.

I was congratulated by my line manager Kashisan who said that I made him proud and who put “Excellent” on my final report and was even asked by the CMO of adidas to come for a meeting with him!!!

All in all, this whole experience was crazy.

I am no one special. I have the same capacities as you reading this. We are the same, no IQ difference is.

What makes the real difference is my will to try, my will to fail, my will to persist, my will to put myself out there.

And anyone can. Don’t be the ant.

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