Adidas Football’s Campaign on Tumblr is Un/expectedly Subtle

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ADOTAS – Whenever a brand or movie buys the IMDb home page, it typically looks like marketing vomit: big and loud and ostentatious, disruptive.  Marketers have complained that Facebook’s sidebar ads are a bit too subtle, so nobody’s clicking them. So it is fitting that despite Tumblr founder/CEO David Karp‘s notable past resistance to advertising that the Adidas football (European football, soccer here in the U.S.) campaign is nice-looking and quiet, and contains real content at the top left: a podcast that’s actually about football and refereeing. There are also static and GIF images, and a link to a video.

In case you missed the discussion about it a over the last couple months, the Tumblr ad space model works differently: Ads are only visible to people who are Tumblr users when they’re logged in to their dashboards, not to people just visiting a Tumblr blog. And users are alerted to the fact that an image is an ad by the addition of a dollar sign icon in one corner of each ad.

The Adidas football campaign comes on the heels of Adidas’ soccer Tumblog that was launched in time for 2012 UFEA European Championship. Adidas’s campaign is larger in scope than being the first major ad campaign run on Tumblr.  The dubious honor of being the first advertiser on Tumblr goes to boutique fashion retailer Bottega Veneta, whose ads are both smaller and in fewer spots on Tumblr’s user interface and spotlight pages. Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games film also ran a Tumblr campaign. But the network isn’t offering advertising to just any brand willing to pay for the space. They’ve started with brands that are already active on Tumblr, and hope to learn a lot from the first few campaigns. And they continue their search for an ad sales chief — in fact, the search recently passed into its fifth month.

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