Project

Throwback: adidas House Party

The year was 2008. The project: the adidas Originals 60th anniversary campaign. Sid Lee had just won the adidas pitch. Jean-François Dumais, now a Creative Director, was one of the young guns on the team that made the House Party campaign happen. Here are his recollections.

 

What was the brief?
I’d started at Sid Lee not long before then and I was put on the team for the adidas Originals pitch. We won the pitch, so we got their first brief; it was a really lofty brief, like few I’ve seen since. We had to celebrate their anniversary and a dozen anniversary collections, and we had to introduce the brand to the U.S. because at the time, outside Europe, adidas was just seen as sports equipment. It’s hard to believe, but back then the lifestyle aspect of adidas didn’t really exist.

 

What was the stroke of genius?
The house party concept came to us pretty quickly. Lots of people claim the idea was theirs – I don’t remember whose it was, but I do know that as soon as I heard it, I jumped out of my chair and it unlocked something in my brain. My first sketch of the concept was of the house itself (as seen below) – we could create this house where each room would speak to a different collection and therefore create its very own little ecosystem. As modest as it was, that sketch was used as a focal point to pitch the idea to the clients. If I’d known, I would have put more love into it! It was the first time in my career that I got that excited by a concept. It was just perfect – plus it allowed us to play with confetti bombs and paint on the walls. What more could we have hoped for?

 

How did the campaign take shape?
The hero piece of the campaign was the TV spot, which was the best house party you’ve ever seen, with all your friends, a deadly soundtrack and stars ranging from David Beckham to Missy Elliott to Katy Perry. It had a huge impact on the collective imagination: it was spoofed on The Simpsons, and the director, Nima Nourizadeh, was even hired to make the film Project X as a sort of spin-off. I think you can say it made waves. There were also photo shoots: one for the adidas Originals brand, others for the collections. There was store design and all the online activations – it was really like a 360-degree advertising class for the kid I was back then.

 

What are your fondest memories of the experience?
When I talk about it with Kristian Manchester, who was the Creative Director on the project, or with Nima – who before that had only directed music videos – or with Christopher Probst, the L.A. photographer who had the exact aesthetic we wanted but who’d barely ever done commercial work before, we like to laugh and say that we all became men on that project. We really were kids doing what we wanted – well, sort of. We were all on this mega-motivated high, like “I can’t believe we’re doing something of this scale, and for adidas.” And even for the client, it was the first time Originals did something that big, on an international level, that covered all their collections. I think everyone had something to prove. The result was a bit of a tour de force.