4 Athletics Brands Changing the Game With Social Video

There’s something inherently inspiring about athletics brands, isn’t there?

They don’t make us better athletes, but these brands – from the Nike swoosh to the Gatorade lightning bolt – have the power to make us believe that we can be champions. Or at least, that we can lose a few of those extra pounds we’ve been holding on to.

So it shouldn’t be any surprise that many of the big names in athletics are killing it on social media.

One of their smartest strategies? They’re using video.

But these aren’t just rehashed commercials. Athletic brands are getting creative when it comes to social video. I mean really creative. Let’s take a look at a few of the companies pushing the envelope with video.

Adidas Originals – Creating a Look and Feel

Across channels, Adidas has done an incredible job of establishing a strong brand look and feel: glamorous yet attainable; chic, but slightly over the top. And whether they’re showing off new products or featuring inspirational wisdom from celebrities, the team at Adidas manages to make it feel like each piece of content – including video – belongs.

So, what makes their social video so effective?

Smartly Product-Focused – A lot of brands bludgeon their social followers with clumsy product advertisements. But Adidas has found a way to make their product-focused videos feel like high art, more at home at Paris Fashion Week than anywhere else. For example, check out the Adidas Tubular video below. These models don’t just walk the catwalk – they put on an athletic yet artistic performance.

Placed Within Broader Campaigns – Video isn’t a marketing silver bullet; it’s just one part of an effective campaign. Adidas knows this, which is why they place their videos in context of other related images and posts for added impact – like they did for their Yeezy BOOST 350s launch.

Meaningful Celebrity Collaboration – Watching their videos, you get the sense that the celebrities who collaborate with Adidas aren’t just there to sell shoes – they’re also looking to impart wisdom and encouragement to their audience. So when artists like Big Sean and Pharrell use Adidas as a platform to discuss self-acceptance and giving back to the community, it feels authentic – and invites thoughtful engagement from consumers.

PUMA – A Past and Present Legacy

One of the things an athletics brand must do as part of their social media strategy is to cultivate a community where their brand legacy and a passion for fitness/competition intersect. PUMA does this beautifully, creating videos that speak to an athletic lifestyle while celebrating their own heritage.

Some of the highlights:

Avant-Garde Animation – Seriously, just watch this video about Boris Becker. It’s beautiful, it’s exciting, and it tells the story of a true champion. The best part? It’s about the shoe – but at the same time, it’s not really about the shoe.


Connections Across Channels – With the 15-second cap on Instagram videos, it’s probably no surprise that a company would edit their existing longer videos to fit the medium. But PUMA finds a way to make these feel less like re-hashed, reheated videos – and more like fresh new interpretations. The way they turned the Boris Becker video into a 3-part Instagram series? Genius.

Clear Sense of Audience – PUMA plays to its strengths, focusing on sports like soccer, tennis, and running – sports that don’t have as wide a following in the US, but that their target demographic really value. And when they feature runners racing through the streets of Havana, it feels perfectly on point – and on brand.

Three US runners. Three Cuban runners. A dash through Havana. This is how you #IGNITEHavana.

A video posted by PUMA (@puma) on

Under Armour – It’s All About the Story

How do you know if an athletic brand’s products are solid? If athletes are wearing them. Whether it’s Stephen Curry, Andy Murray, or Lauren Holiday, Under Armour’s stellar video content features champions training for greatness.

Every athlete trains hard, but @laurenholiday12 trains harder. #WEWILLWHATWEWANT #USAvGER

A video posted by Under Armour (@underarmour) on


Aspirational: For the most part, UA’s videos almost exclusively feature the inspiring stories of incredible professional athletes. It’s a smart move – after all, one of the most alluring things about athletic wear is that we can be like the pros. What’s unique is that these videos don’t feel like arbitrary celebrity endorsements. Instead, UA shows these athletes in training, following them in real time as they prepare for the big game. Story Over Sale: If you watch the videos on UA’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, you may notice that almost none of them so much as mention a product. Rather than going for the immediate sale, the folks at Under Armour understand that social media is an opportunity to build a community with deep emotional ties to their brand – so they act accordingly. Keep It Simple:  Not every video posted to your social media accounts has to be a production. Even just the minimal amount of motion added to this image of Stephen Curry and others like it invites engagement and enhances the viewer’s experience.

Step One. @Wardell30 leads his team to victory in the #CurryOne #NBAFinals

A video posted by Under Armour (@underarmour) on

Lacoste – Know Why People Love You

Ahhh, Lacoste. When I think of Lacoste, I can’t help but associate the brand with those tiny alligators on the polo shirts my dad wore in the late 80s – around the time he was also sporting a mustache. When you think of Lacoste, you probably think of the same thing: the polo shirt. Rene Lacoste pioneered the polo, and the brand very smartly focuses on the iconic item in its social media presence.

Short, Yet Creative: Lacoste has an Instagram-heavy social media presence, and most of the videos they share on Facebook and Twitter are from their Instagram account – which means the vast majority of their videos are 15 seconds or less. But these guys are masters of the short video, packing a ton of creativity into a short space – as this video can attest.

The Lacoste.12.12 watch is sure to keep dad on time this #FathersDay!

A video posted by Lacoste (@lacoste) on


Product Focus: Each video combines a creative touch with a product-centric approach. Lacoste’s videos aren’t extraneous content – they’re laser-focused mini-ads that feel like works of art. Don’t believe me? Just watch this video and tell me you don’t need another polo!

Tel père, tel fils.

A video posted by Lacoste (@lacoste) on


Campaign Continuity: Lacoste knows that impact doesn’t come from one-off ads, but from consistent quality and a timeless message – it’s in their DNA! So it makes sense that they would have a long-term play in mind for most of their social campaigns, like Maison Lesage, Father’s Day, and Urbanite.

It should be clear from these brands that there are a ton of ways to tap into social video. What matters is that you know your audience and approach your videos with a sense of artistry – even when they’re heavily product-focused.

How are you planning on using video to highlight your brand?


Eric Hinson is the Founder and CEO of Explainify, which specializes in short, engaging, explainer videos that influence buying decisions. Click here to download his latest eBook, Cut the Crap and Close More Deals!

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