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March 31, 2021

It's Not Easy Being Green - Kermit the Frog Stars in Adidas’ Latest Sustainability Campaign

by Marilyn Wilkinson

It doesn't matter how old we are, there's always something we can learn from Kermit the Frog. Like while it might not be easy being green, it's still important. That’s the key message of the new campaign from Adidas to promote the launch of their Stan Smith sneakers made of recycled materials. So, what made the iconic sportswear brand choose Kermit the Frog as an unexpected yet brilliant brand ambassador? And is Adidas really a sustainable brand?

Kermit x Adidas Brand Campaign

The campaign highlights Adidas commitment to lower its carbon footprint and eliminate plastic waste, having pledged to use only 100% recycled polyester in all their products by 2024.

In the 60-second spot released on TV and social media, Kermit talks about how overwhelming it feels to be up against a huge challenge like climate change. The loveable frog character of Muppets’ fame goes on to explain why the seemingly impossible challenge is worth it, saying, “If we all do our part, we can make the world a better place, a greener place, for the next person to walk in our shoes.”

The ad concludes with Kermit declaring, “It’s not easy being green.” Stan Smith, the legendary tennis star and ambassador of the Adidas sneaker line, replies, “But nothing great ever is.”

Get this - Kermit doesn’t just star in the ad, he’s on the actual shoe. For a sneaker line that has stayed true to its signature style since 1973, this is a big deal. The new sneakers still look and feel like the original Stan Smiths, but they are made with Primegreen, a series of high-performance recycled materials exclusive to Adidas.

The new product line builds on the longstanding partnership between Adidas and Disney and aims to “bring green icons together like never before”. Other green characters such as The Hulk and Groot from the Marvel movies and Monster Inc’s Mike Wazowski also feature on some of the new Adidas Stan Smith sneakers and are available as of March 29 on adidas.com/stansmith.

Why Kermit the Frog is the Perfect Fit for the Adidas Brand

What do Kermit the Frog and Kendell Jenner have in common? Well, they are both the face of Adidas – a brand that stands for overcoming challenges against all odds.

Take the Adidas logo for instance. The three stripes look like a mountain, symbolizing facing challenges and pursuing your goals no matter what. This philosophy goes back to the very beginnings of the brand when the founder of adidas – then still known as Dassler Shoes – Adolf Dassler drove to the 1936 Summer Olympics with a suitcase full of cleats and talked sprinter Jesse Owens into wearing them. Against all odds, he said yes, and Adidas was catapulted to fame overnight.

It’s unsurprising, then, that the spot focused on the difficulty and perceived futility of battling climate change by yourself. As Kermit says, “You might wonder, am I too small to change this whole world?”

Bravery, resilience, and a get-it-done attitude are core brand values that Adidas ambassadors are expected to demonstrate – whether they are celebrities like Beyoncé and Kanye West, sports stars like David Beckham and Mohammed Ali, or indeed, Disney characters.

Kermit the Frog’s personality is the perfect fit for the Adidas brand. He is kind and helpful toward others, highly empathetic, with a keen sense of right and wrong. Above all, Kermit is brave, honorable and stands up for what he believes in, even when the odds are against him - as seen in Muppet Treasure Island where he plays the role of Captain Smollett and stands up to the villainous pirate Long John Silver.

A talking, sword-yielding frog perfectly embodies the Adidas tagline, “Impossible is nothing.”

Is Adidas a Sustainable Brand?

The campaign reminds us all to be more green – but is Adidas as sustainable as they say?

The Latana Sustainability Index revealed that consumers ranked Adidas 53 out of the 100 most sustainable brands, behind Nike, who came in at 38. This means that while the brand is already perceived as being quite sustainable, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

By 2025, nine out of ten Adidas products will be sustainable. This is based on their Three Loop Strategy: made from recycled materials, made to be remade, or made with natural and renewable materials.

This is a smart move for the brand since their target audience is more environmentally-aware than average.

Adidas’ customer base is around 13-40 years old, but its key target audience is 15-30-year-olds from a higher-income background, often in urban areas. Research from Latana showed that young people feel strongly about sustainability, with 55% of 18-24-year-olds saying they would not buy from a brand they knew to be acting unsustainably.

Adidas says that its strategic focus is on increasing brand credibility, elevating the experience for consumers, and pushing the boundaries in sustainability. The focus on sustainable products seems to be consumer-led.

Adidas’ marketing playbook, referred to internally as ‘Own the Game’, says, “Consumers drive structural trends in our industry through their preferences and behaviors. They strive to live active and healthy lives, they wish to blend sport and lifestyle, and they are digital by default as well as sustainable by conviction.”

Put simply, consumers – especially the younger generations – want to buy from sustainable brands, and Adidas knows it.

Adidas is also planning to move away from one-off sustainability initiatives and towards a scaled and comprehensive sustainability program.

Does this mean we will be seeing more of Kermit and other green Disney characters? Let us know what you think!

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