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How Excellent Creative Can Lead to Upcycling Content

Jordan Kelley, Content Director,

Bare bones of the Campus 80 for the film "Campus 80s Makerlab"
Bare bones of the Campus 80 for the film "Campus 80s Makerlab"

In 2019, Adidas, Studio Ib, and Picture Farm set out on a relatively open brief in search of creating a piece of branded entertainment. Adidas Global Creative Concept and Storytelling Director Jose Cabaco, Studio Ib Creative Director Ibrahem Hasan, and Picture Farm’s Ben Freedman sought to find a set of collaborative partners that were all “makers” – creatives with the ability to craft tangible products. Multiple calls between the production leaders gave way to an idea in pursuit of a creative experience that would yield a physical product. The conscripted makers were tasked with participating in this process and creating on the fly along the way. The task - take the classic Adidas Campus 80 silhouette and let these makers go to town putting their creative spin on it. Each exclusive shoe would then be manufactured in a limited run of 333 pairs. The result - a document of 3 designers making shoes. But the true genius of the project wasn’t in the obvious result (the film), but rather in the byproducts of production that were able to be upcycled into a multi-faceted brand experience rich in story and identity.

Before any byproduct of a piece of content can be upcycled, there has to be a certain level of expertise and attention paid to the primary piece of content itself. In this case, that was the film, which found success in the balance between freedom and control. While makers Shun Hirose, Helen Kirkum, and Alex Nash were given the freedom to design from their imagination, they were put on a strict timetable in order to be able to put their shoes into production in a timely fashion. The same rules applied to the filmmaking team – there was a fixed shooting schedule to adhere to with creativity to operate within said schedule. This is where having talented creatives who are skilled in their craft as well as communication makes all the difference. “This wasn’t the type of project where the documentarian, creative director, and brand rep are standing back and letting what’s being captured unfold” said Cabaco on the Brand Storytelling Livestream. “Everyone was inextricably linked in the process of creating the end result”. It seems the convivial nature of the team’s collaboration allowed each person’s directive to flow into each other. “The creative director shot some footage, the doc director is breaking to talk to the creatives, and the creatives spoke off-camera directly to the project heads.”

Because of this, a project that easily could have taken 3 years was executed by this team in 3 months, the highest concentration of which happened in 10 days. The film, “Campus 80s Makerlab”, captures the rough, unfinished quality of a shoe in mid-design, bringing a level of artistic flare that feels like something between a skate film, a living photo album, and a music video. The aesthetic is strong, artistic, and beautiful – attributes that have come to be synonymous with the Adidas brand. But almost as impressive as the film itself were its byproducts, which were each created with such care that they could stand alone as their own ambassadors of the campaign. There are the shoes – a limited run of 333 pairs of each design were put into production. Sneakers have a large and dedicated following, and it should come as no surprise that a limited designer run of one of Adidas most classic silhouettes would be in demand. Adidas creatively paired with StockX, the foremost online purveyor of rare sneakers and the internet’s destination for sneaker auctions, to host a live auction of the limited run Campus 80s. The event carried over the visual language of the film, featured the designers themselves, and ultimately a live auction. The photography captured during the 10-day mad dash across multiple countries to make the film was then compiled and sold as a book of photography, again carrying the visual language established in the film out into the physical world. What was initially conceived as a film production resulted in so much more: a limited run of shoes, a coffee table book, a launch, and a piece of content.

According to the lead creatives, the outcome of the project surprised and delighted all the way to the boardroom. The documented journey yielded a result that couldn’t have been predicted by its creators and couldn’t have been achieved without a lack of rigidity. This long-form doc invites people to be a part of the experience of creating with passion. Its focus on footwear design, asset creation, and storytelling are all a product of the process of pulling it together with the right creative people. “It’s not about rolling the dice and hoping for the best”, said Cabaco, “it’s about curating a group of people who hit their marks consistently as individuals, and bringing them together to achieve a common goal.” Doing so can lead to a product yield that is so much greater when each piece of contributing content is crafted with enough creativity and care that it has the capacity to stand alone, expanding the story of the original piece of creative out into the world.


About Jordan Kelley

Jordan Kelley is the Content Director at He's an essayist, editor, and observer intent on mapping new media trends and disseminating the most relevant information in the world of branded content. Jordan is a lover of stories and an avid consumer of new media.


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