adidas Makes a Splash with Grand Prix Winners

adidas Makes a Splash with Grand Prix Winners


All eyes were on Cannes last week where the best work of the previous year has been getting its just rewards. Or that’s the theory – in practice there’s often an effectiveness gap between what the juries love and how the general public actually responds. But a lot of the time the creative, innovative work which wins awards really does resonate with a wider audience. That’s certainly true of this year’s simple, elegant and hugely creative Grand Prix Winner in the Outdoor category, adidas’ “Liquid Billboard”.

Like a lot of outdoor work these days, “Liquid Billboard” isn’t only meant to be seen outdoors. It exists in two ways – as a real installation somewhere in Dubai and as a bit of snackable video circulating on short-form social media networks from TikTok to Instagram Reels.

The idea is beautifully simple: a billboard that’s also a narrow swimming pool. A swimmer dives into the pool and swims around underwater, seen on the ‘billboard’ as if she was a penguin in an aquarium tank. We’ve all seen digital billboards which pretend to be liquid – this is a real, liquid version that looks like a special effect. And which also happens to advertise adidas and its swimwear.

There’s a question as to how well the installation makes the link back to the brand, though. When we tested the work among an audience in Dubai it didn’t perform all that well on short-term sales impact or Brand Fluency. That’s not entirely surprising – the audience’s attention is on the spectacle of the billboard itself and it’s no wonder they don’t notice the discreet adidas logo.

But emotionally the connection is there – “Liquid Billboard” surprised and delighted the Test Your Ad audience and landed a 4-Star score, strong for a Static ad. So even though its potential short-term impact wasn’t strong, it has lots of potential for brand growth. We’d argue that this is the right way round for a piece of work like “Liquid Billboard”. It’s not designed to be an ad that replicates at scale so isn’t designed for a sales bump – all its impact comes from the ‘wow’ factor, reinforcing adidas’ reputation for innovation and inventiveness. In that regard, it’s a job very well done.