You might be wondering “What exactly do sneakers have to do with credit unions?” The answer is “purpose-driven marketing.” This is a fancy way of saying your credit union should be exploring ways to connect with audiences based on their shared needs and interests. The most successful purpose-driven marketing is authentic, organic and benefits the greater good.

Adidas recently ran a fascinating grassroots campaign that captured this perfectly, called the Shoe For Every State campaign. It’s been localized for all 50 states, and tied it directly into a fundraising effort for Women Win, a charity devoted to advancing women’s leadership.

How did Adidas pull it off? Pretty simple, and very fun. They hired 12 female artists to create a special, one-of-a-kind Ultraboost X sneaker for every U.S. state. Using inspiration from local state themes and icons, such as Wisconsin cheese, Georgia peaches, California sunsets and more, the artists were able to articulate recognizable and relatable details into each unique pair of shoes. The sneakers were then sold in an online auction, with the proceeds going directly to Women Win.

It’s a win on many fronts. And it’s a great reminder to credit unions that you can create some amazing engagement with even the most basic products and services. You don’t have to roll out a line of custom sneakers, but you do have to look for interesting and relatable ways to engage your local community. Here are a few important notes your credit union can take from Adidas’ campaign:

Relate to a local audience on an individual scale

Adidas took a very large shoe campaign and related it to a local audience on an individual state level, something that can be incredibly difficult to do. They asked each artist to draw inspiration from things that people in each state associate with and recognize. The designs ended up ranging from simple and subdued to wildly different (shout out to Kentucky for putting grass, leaves and flowers on running shoes).

Give your brand a unique voice

Why go with the same old, same old? Change it up. There are a lot of creative ways for your credit union to change up your voice a little while still staying true to your brand, and the results may surprise you.

Adidas’ current brand mantra goes a little something like this. “Adidas is a truly global sports brand. Therefore, everything we do is rooted in sports. Everything that happens in sports happens in moments. Every moment is a chance for the athlete to start over and take today.” Adidas could have called on the strength of their already-known brand and simply marketed the Ultraboost X sneakers to athletes, but this wouldn’t have been the right tactic, because part of selling your product is also constantly enhancing your brand. Adidas enhanced theirs by focusing on moments and experiences that mean something to people in each unique state.  

Partner with a charity or support a community project

Taking a philanthropic approach made Adidas’ campaign even more popular. All people, especially younger generations, prefer to associate with brands that give back. In fact, Nielsen’s annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report indicated that 81% of millennials expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship.* And because the amount of marketing people experience on any given day can reach a deafening roar, getting your credit union’s brand voice heard through community initiatives is a way to break through the clutter while helping others.

So how can this help your credit union?

You don’t have to launch a new line of shoes or establish a large marketing budget. Just look for inspiring ways to reach people.

Or, take a page out of Horizon Credit Union’s toolkit. In 2014, they launched the Biz Kids Piggy Bank Treasure Hunt in order to engage students and teach them financial literacy skills. School administrators partnered with a credit union representative to hide clues and the prize “Biz Pig” in participating schools. Students and staff members solved puzzles related to financial literacy in order to earn clues, and used what they learned to search out the “Biz Pig.” The person that located the pig was awarded a $250 scholarship, and was able to select a local nonprofit organization to receive a $250 matching gift from the credit union.

Simple, fun, educational and giving back. You just can’t get any better than that.


Adidas’ Shoe For Every State campaign is truly one-of-a-kind. So is Horizon’s Biz Kids Treasure Hunt. After all, why go with an ordinary advertising campaign? Give it something extra. Something extraordinary. Adidas’ campaign stayed on brand while creating something that hadn’t been seen or done before. Horizon’s Biz Kids Treasure Hunt was fun and educational. Get creative and take a unique approach to your next advertising campaign. It could be the next one to dominate headlines.

*Source: Landrum, Sarah. “Millennials Driving Brands To Practice Socially Responsible Marketing.” Forbes, March 17, 2017.