Graffiti artist Saber helped craft a sculpture that served as a trophy for the winning team.
Right at the start of World Cup fever this summer, adidas staged one of several street soccer experiences as part of the brand’s global Tango League competition series. Held at the indoor UrbanFutsal facility, The Base, in Los Angeles on June 16, the event coincided with the launch of the adidas X 18 boot and also fueled the brand’s U.S. soccer narrative for the year.
“Our goal is to build an inclusive soccer community in our key cities of New York City and L.A.,” says Lindsey Miller, event manager at adidas U.S. Soccer. “By growing the Tango community at each event, we are able to have more meaningful touchpoints with these target consumers who are the ones who will help authenticate and advocate for our brand.”
Different from the 11-a-side play format that U.S. soccer fans are accustomed to, 5-a-side street-style soccer (also known as futsal) is more focused on creativity in the game. Players in the Tango League are duly rewarded for demonstrating as much. The challenge for adidas is igniting passion for this type of soccer within the U.S.
“Tango League presents a specific type of soccer that isn’t as popular in the U.S. as it is globally. We’re challenged with trying to popularize a layer of the sport that isn’t a piece of our culture,” Miller says. “But we bring in the local culture and community and build off of that to excite around Tango League and to get players to join.”
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Here’s how it comes together: Players for each Tango League event (ages 16-35 can qualify) are chosen on social media, from adidas brand channels and soccer influencer channels, via a call to action to sign up. Players can also apply using the Tango League app. The brand then selects the teams that will be invited to the events, but the teams that don’t make the cut are still invited to be spectators and engage with the brand on-site.
Aside from helping to choose Tango League players, influencers serve as guest judges by picking an MVP after each match as well as the overall MVP of the tournament, who then becomes an adidas representative, gaining access to products and special experiences such as box seats to NFL games and meet-and-greets with adidas athletes. The MVPs of individual tournaments are also invited to represent their cities in one of Tango League’s global events. And finally, MVPs can be named to a small group of the elite Tango League players, Tango Squad FC, who travel the world to train and play against, and with, some of adidas’ biggest teams and assets, such as Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
“It creates a really amazing opportunity …read more