Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and assign tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” We often choose the first path as it feels more pragmatic but the second ensures explorers for generations to come. As humans we are born with a deep sense of curiosity and a compulsion to move our bodies. Our love of sport is deeply rooted in our DNA as it allows us to shape who we are, explore our potential, and unites us in our desire to imagine a higher sense of purpose.
“What would happen if sport had no space in our lives – both physically and metaphorically?”
For many, the topic of sustainability and sport seems to be a corporate mandate where we are expected to be compliant with a list of tasks intended to clean up the environment and ensure health and safety standards are met. But what if we could inspire a generation to value the spaces of sport as one of their most precious gifts to experience what we are born to do? This story began about a year ago after we launched our partnership with Parley for the Oceans. After years of leading the industry in sustainability and defining the territory for change we still weren’t cutting through and exciting consumers with our albeit impressive list of resource achievements. In our weekly sustainability meeting someone asked the questions – Why do we care? Why do our consumers care? – kicking off a six-week research project conducted by our Consumer Insights Team. They established that today’s players have a unique perspective about the topic of sustainability.
“They have a deep love for sport and the power it has to shape their lives, and they have been exposed to the world’s challenges – environmental, economic and social issues – from a very young age.”
They are ready for action, but we as adidas still had no action to bring. What we did know is that one of their biggest concerns is that a lack of action on sustainability would leave them with a world where sport no longer had a place and 93% said that would suck. In December we decided to come together and invite an even larger group to join us in laying all the facts on the table and looking at the opportunities. We agreed that our focus would be to act as the guardians of the spaces of sport. This helped to frame the two critical factors for us to act as guardians in these spaces – the products we use for sport and the people who make sport happen. I remember the moment when it all came together.
“We realized that our future was to outline a vision where we no longer lived by rules of compliance, instead we created a vision for people to aspire to.”
We would become the guardians of the spaces of sport and inspire others to navigate toward a future where sport would be a source of happiness for generations to come. It is our duty, it is an imperative, and it will enable us to continue to be the beacon for others to create the future.