Adidas Made a Sprawling 12-Hour Ad Starring the ZX 2X Boost Sneaker

Johannes Leonardo courts Gen Z with art and ASMR

Johannes Leonardo created a marathon YouTube film—it runs 12 freaking hours!—to introduce Adidas' ZX 2X Boost sneakers.

Dubbed "ZXience Network" the sprawling video presents all manner of ZX imagery in a range of animated and live-action styles. The ridiculously long-form initiative, we're told, leverages and magnifies ASMR/Oddly Satisfying trends, aiming for Gen-Z consumers with the kind of offbeat content they apparently crave:

Did you watch all 12 hours? How about 11 and a half? In the likely event you couldn't hang in all the way, check out some highlights below.

First, a taste of sneaker cake (which, of course, leverages another recent meme):

This one's more like stepping in gum, but it's sure got sole:

Next, a sneaker-face-painting session:

Here's a Kubrickian visualization of Adidas aerodynamics:

Finally, amplifying the 2001 vibe, an odyssey of athletic-shoe discovery:

"The inspiration was really the shoe," Johannes Leonardo executive creative director Maclean Jackson tells Muse. "When the ZX was launched in 1984, it introduced futuristic technology that redefined what a running shoe could do. Over the years, each iteration included progressively new features and colorways."

"Now, as a lifestyle sneaker, it's an experiment in feeling," Jackson says. "It has the eccentric, squishy heel with a surprisingly satisfying level of comfort. This led us to the 'oddly satisfying' trend exploding with Gen Z. Instead of relying on tired, fact-based performance tropes, we explored this playful idea that the new ZX 2K Boost pushes the boundaries of logic in favor of pure satisfaction."

To give the campaign's "streaming network" concept a suitable kick, "we wanted the randomness of the programming to feel as fun and unexpected as television in the '80s—like early MTV or public access—when the franchise originally launched. The platform, like the shoe itself, was a combination of past meets future," he says. Twelve hours was the maximum length of a single video the agency could upload to YouTube.

"The 12-hour-content approach is meant to be the exact opposite of where everything else in the industry is heading—content that takes six seconds to throw 16 things at you and feels anything but soothing," Jackson says. "The 'ZXience Network' really takes its time—to a ridiculous and comedic extent—which we're hoping people will find refreshing."

This marks the first notable addition to the ultra-lengthy-ad genre in, well, rather a long time. Other examples include last year's two-hour epic from JSX airlines, and Virgin America's six-hour pre-roll from 2014—both by ad shop Eleven, which clearly has too much time on its hands. Then there was MullenLowe's stultifying seven-hour brain-freezer from 2016 for U.S. Cellular.

Such efforts were intentionally interminable, stunts designed to generate coverage, not meant for sustained viewing. Adidas, however, takes a different tack. While no one will stick around for a half-day-long commercial, there's enough pizazz and variety in the "ZXience Network" to reward folks who slip into the stream at random points—and they might even stay for some subsequent segments.

"We worked with Adidas to first map out the types of content," Jackson says. "Then, within each category, we developed a list of different artists, studios and creators to collaborate with. We engaged them all roughly at once, with dozens of work streams all happening concurrently, in multiple time zones."

As if 12-hour weren't enough—not hardly!—Johannes Leonardo also developed a stylistically similar ZX content series with gamers, performance artists and other influencers putting their best feet forward:

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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