Case Study: Adidas Window Shopping

adidas AG is a German multinational corporation that designs and manufactures sports clothing and accessories. A few years ago, adidas launched a new label called NEO, which was directed at younger customers. For these new ‘digital age’ customers, their smartphone has become the ‘first’ screen.

adidas has invested a lot of money putting shops on the busiest streets in cities across the world. However, one problem is that these shops are only open ‘during working hours’ i.e. during the day. Moreover, adidas has been successful in the e-commerce channel, but so far, had not taken the initiative to connect real-world experiences with virtual shopping.



TBWA\Helsinki came up with an idea which would put ‘real’ shopping into ‘window’ shopping. Unfortunately, the Finnish retailers they approached weren’t ready for such revolutionary innovation. Finally they found a buyer from Germany – adidas.  Martin Mohr, the Creative Director from TBWA\Helsinki explains the choice of brand: “adidas is known for being a very innovative brand. They are in deep competition with NIKE all the time about innovation. So of course it was a natural thing for them to just sign up and go for it.”


“Our insight was that there are all these retailers out there who pay so much money for their flagship stores and nice locations. And then we thought how crazy it is that they are maybe open for only ten hours a day, the rest, they’re just closed down. There is no engagement and interaction with people, it is money out of the window basically – not to engage and do something interesting at the time that the store is closed,” says the Creative Director Martin Mohr.

The idea was to make use of already existing shopping windows and actually generate activity during ‘closed hours’. For many of the young target audience, smartphones are no longer the second screen – they’re the first screen. Therefore, smartphones were crucial in this campaign.


Consumer behaviour meant extra challenges for the mobile aspect of the campaign. Many people don’t want to download additional apps, scan QR codes or register their personal information.

Moreover, as the window would be located on a very busy street with people passing by constantly – the consumer would not want to type in any sensitive personal data on the ‘screen’ for everybody to see. The team behind the campaign took all these aspects into consideration and went on to build a close-to-perfection prototype.


The adidas ‘window shopping experience’ featured sophisticated and expensive technology. Expensive because these screens needed to handle direct sunlight. The cost of this hardware made it something that not every retailer can afford. On the other hand, the concept can alternatively be used inside a shopping mall for example, where sunlight is not a problem and in this case, the price per unit is cheaper.



The pilot ran in Nuremberg, a relatively small city in Germany with a population of 510,000 people, for six weeks. This test provided the agency with some valuable feedback and adidas’s NEO shop had a lot of attention.

Martin Mohr on the pilot: “The consumer would never think that it is a pilot, they think that this is the real thing. We had to make it completely solid, and make an e-commerce integration so that you could actually buy. Some people did actually buy via the system. It was a fully functioning prototype.”


The big question for the agency and their production partners was – how to make the experience easy to understand for someone who had never seen something like this before when there was no one there to explain it to them?

This problem was solved. The digital interactive concept using a giant touchscreen enabled people to browse NEO’s products, try them on life-size models, manipulate the models to do cool things and most importantly – buy the products. There was no need for downloading an app, a simple PIN connected the window and the user’s smartphone. By visiting a simple URL on their smartphone and typing in a one-time PIN, the shopper’s mobile became connected in real time with a shopping bag on the window. The window display could be controlled by 85% of all smartphones.

For many, shopping will always be a social activity; adidas window shopping allowed people to share their favourite items via social networks.


“If somebody ‘played with the window’, this got 90% of the street’s attention. Which is a completely outrageous number. If you think about a big street: approximately 1 out of 4 people playing with the window actually walked into the store. Then during the night time we had some conversions via-commerce going on as well. And that was in a relatively small town. We had very high engagement in that environment,”– Martin Mohr about the results.


This campaign can be considered as a very good research project for developers and retailers. Of course, adidas’ interactive shopping window turned out to be a big success, but in a rather unexpected way. The big success came in getting attention, not in actual sales figures. The window got 90% of the street’s attention. People loved manipulating the mannequins and the overall gaming aspect. Although the creators finally put shopping into window shopping, the interactive window served a different role and ironically, in many ways went back to the original concept of a window display: displaying products, making them desirable and getting people to enter. The window made the store itself attractive and consumers were more likely to make a real-world purchase.

Martin Mohr comments the results: “The best result was in the overall observation of the awareness going on. If you consider six weeks in Nuremberg – we had around 7,600 interactions with the mannequin for example. So if you look at the time that the person would spend with the mannequin, it is very close to being around 24/7 interaction.”



adidas window shopping helped TWBA\Helsinki understand what could be the potential future perspective for this technological platform. The short-term sales figures were less important than the overall attention it generated.

Creative Director Martin Mohr (TBWA\Helsinki) recommends: “Focus on the things this technology does great: huge awareness even when nobody is playing with it, people who play, 25% of them walk into the store. We will focus on these ‘heat-generating’ ideas and use the platform for a lot of different engagements. Gamify the experience”.


Considering the technology itself, it is clear that mobile phones are no longer the second screen for many people, they are the first. Getting people’s attention is becoming harder by the day. Consumers don’t want to waste time on scanning codes and downloading apps. And nobody wants to share personal information in front of others.

“Getting an app to connect to our window was completely out of question. You have people’s attention for just 20 seconds so it was very important to connect with the window without an app,” says Martin Mohr (TBWA\Helsinki).


For adidas the lesson was that a cross-functional team from Retail Environments, Brand Marketing, eCommerce and Global IT can really create magic if they work together for one goal.


Looking back, Martin Mohr shared what he would have done differently: “In our second pilot, we are going to be much more direct on the message. We are going to say “Shop with your mobile!” I believe that we could have converted even more, if we had been more direct with people.“





Catalin Dobre


“I think we all love when we see a glimpse of the future among the Festival work. What adidas did was a truly amazing experience for its consumers and projected an image of how window shopping might look like in a few years.

Even if we saw before outdoor shopping experiences enabled by smartphone technology, their execution was by far the most spectacular and the best produced one. It took one step further towards the future, towards the real thing.

Technology is at its best when you don’t even feel you are using it. adidas created such a simple and easy to use tool that it managed to enter people’s life in the most natural way. That’s a challenge for every marketer out there. In this world crowded with technology they need to find new ways to engage their customers.”

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