By Kait Shea
When the Beyond the Streets graffiti exhibition launched in Los Angeles in 2018, signing on as lead sponsor was a no-brainer for adidas. The brand’s deep-seated roots in skateboarding and street culture was a perfect fit for the new platform. But like any event program, the kinks were still being ironed out the first time around. This year, Beyond the Streets took over the Big Apple, expanding from a 40,000-square-foot space to a 100,000-square-foot campus dedicated to telling the story of how music, art and skateboarding led to street culture’s modern place in the mainstream, with adidas at the forefront of the narrative. To find out what it takes to evolve a sponsorship strategy, we sat down with Cullen Poythress, senior communications manager at adidas Skateboarding for insights.
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Event Marketer: What initially prompted adidas’ interest in Beyond the Streets?
Cullen Poythress: adidas has a very authentic place in the history and the narrative of the evolution of street culture, specifically graffiti and street art. And that makes us a very authentic partner to have a role in the show. From a key city standpoint, both Los Angeles and New York are very important; these are the cities that major cultural movements emerge from, and showing up and being a part of those emerging conversations is where we want to be. So, we really looked at Beyond the Streets in L.A. as a sustained platform for storytelling. This isn’t a one and done type thing—we’re talking about a three-month residency in the city with all sorts of opportunities to host workshops, lectures, charity events, film screenings—there’s all sorts of things that we can do. We were really attracted to that aspect of it.
EM: How did your approach in L.A. differ from New York?
CP: Going into it in L.A., we were sort of building the plane as we were flying it. We pulled off everything well, but going into New York we were a lot more strategic in terms of, here’s a bunch of learnings we took from L.A. on what this thing can be, how it can serve the community and all of the different kinds of brand stories we can tell. We had that knowledge going into New York and we were able to do a whole lot more strategically.
EM: How has adidas’ view of the Beyond the Streets platform evolved?
CP: What we walked away [from the L.A. show] with from an adidas point of view are four pillars. First of all, it’s a new experience in street culture. It’s a living, breathing, interactive museum experience designed to educate, engage and inspire people. The second one is, it’s a world’s fair of art, fashion, music and style. It truly does speak to all of those pillars. It’s accessible, it’s exciting, it’s immersive and it’s open. The third …read more