adidas ZX Flux: 'Sole Search

2014 | Carat Melbourne

An evolution of 80’s sneaker sensation, ZX 8000, the ZX Flux is a shoe steeped in adidas footwear heritage. Thirty years on, it was imperative to showcase the revitalised sneaker, but remain true to the authentic roots of the ZX series.

Igniting desire for a new product amongst an audience that is notoriously resistant to traditional advertising was never going to be a walk in the park. But that was exactly the task we faced to launch the newest iteration of the sneaker.

$ 600% Return on marketing investment


The adidas ZX Flux is sneaker royalty.

When it was first released in 1989, the ZX 8000 was more than just a new shoe. Part of the pioneering ZX Family, it was a calculated step forward that captured the hearts of dedicated athletes and street-level casuals the world over.

It’s also a shoe that holds a special place in history for adidas, so when they told us they would be relaunching the iconic sneaker thirty years on, the unspoken brief was clear: “Do not f**k this up.”

Thankfully the actual brief was more detailed. We were tasked with launching the newest member of the ZX Family – the ZX Flux – to market, with a limited budget ($43k) and no local creative agency.

The media-led campaign needed to build excitement and drive conversation amongst adidas’ digitally-savvy, image-conscious youth consumer, and ultimately convert sales to achieve adidas’ business objective of 80% sell-through in the first 12 weeks.

The challenge would be chasing a target audience with a reputation for playing ‘hard to get’ with advertisers. Pre-launch demand was already high among loyalists, so our focus was ushering in the next generation of Flux fans.


Our target audience are most easily mobilised by the promise of unique experiences; they are off-the-beaten-track-travelling, secret-warehouse-party-crashing, pop-up-restaurant-finding, next-big-thing-discovering early adopters, or as we like to call them, Experience Collectors.

As the name would suggest, they actively seek out unique and shareable experiences as a form of social currency among their mates, and will gravitate toward brands able to facilitate these types of experiences for them.

We decided this was our best way in.

The ZX Flux is a perfect example of an authentic icon improved through innovation. Like the shoe itself, we wanted our campaign to strike a balance between authenticity and innovation.

So, we took the humble ‘scavenger hunt’ and re-imagined it; we created a city-wide social sneaker hunt.

We knew we needed people talking about us, so it was essential the hunt was anchored in social. We also knew we already had some powerful advocates in the form of our existing social media fan base. Leveraging these communities would be critical to the visibility and success of the campaign.

We needed to mobilise an army of brand advocates – both online, through talkability and sharing, and in the real world, through participation.

We designed a socially-led, real-world race to track down several pairs of ZX Flux hidden across Melbourne and Sydney. Staying true to our strategy of striking a balance between authenticity and innovation, we leveraged the cultural credibility ascribed to the humble street poster – an iconic medium in itself – and used it in a never-before-seen way; we hid the free pairs of ZX Flux behind them.


The campaign was broken out into three stages:

Light the fuse:

With a limited budget, harnessing the power of owned and earned media to extend the impact of our paid media investment was essential. The first phase of the campaign relied heavily on adidas’ own social channels to build a groundswell of anticipation. In this phase, we worked closely with adidas to develop a content strategy to inform, intrigue, and excite their fans. 


We ran a comprehensive street poster campaign across the two cities, hiding the shoes behind ten select posters in each. Fans had to follow the clues to find the shoes – it was a case of first in, best dressed.

Clues as to the location of the shoes were seeded out via adidas’ Twitter and Instagram accounts and broadened to key social influencers via promoted tweets.

An interactive mobile execution was also created to connect consumers to adidas’ social channels, e-comm site and nearby bricks-and-mortar retailers. To maximise relevance and conversion, the mobile campaign was proximity targeted to street poster locations, bar, cafes and a number of other sufficiently ‘cool’ locales, then broadened by contextual and audience targeting.

Snap & share:

We knew when it came to our socially-savvy target audience, if you don’t share it, it didn’t happen, so they wouldn’t need much in the way of encouragement to promote their participation in the sneaker hunt.

Still, we didn’t want to take any chances. Not only was the competition mechanic grounded within social, broader sharing was also encouraged amongst both lucky winners – flaunting their loot – and the not-so-lucky latecomers. They were consoled with entry into a second chance draw if they shared a picture of themselves with the now-shoeless winning posters.


With a total media investment of only $43k, which incorporated poster production, installation and digital production, the immediate return on investment in retail revenue for the client was $300,000 (RRP x units sold). True financial return on marketing investment was 600%.

ZX Flux sold out completely in just over 2 weeks, against an objective of 80% sell-through in 12 weeks.

The sneaker hunt also sparked a social media frenzy, clocking up five times the average social engagement of any previous adidas post. From the first tweet, people furiously commented, tweeted, shared and liked, all in the hopes of being one of the lucky few to find a pair of ZX Flux.

In doing so, they extended awareness of the launch within their own social circles, and imbued the ZX Flux with the kind of cultural credibility that brands live and die by.

$ 600% Return on marketing investment
$ 100% Sell-through in two weeks ZX Flux sold out in stores nationally in just over 2 weeks, far-exceeding the client’s target of 80% sell-through in 12 weeks.
) 5000 Our first tweet received nearly 5000 clicks and 62 retweets within the first few hours! 5x the average social engagement recorded on any previous adidas post.

The campaign also put us on the radar with global adidas markets, with client feedback including, “ innovative, interactive and hugely successful campaign that has become best practice on a local and global level."

Jackie Matteson Senior Specialist - Brand Marketing
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