The Tambosi Effect: Using Ads to Inspire
By The Editors

As a former collegiate athlete himself, Fabio used his own experience to know that one of the most empowering things we could for our minds and our bodies during the pandemic was to prepare for battle, to be "Ready for Sport." And to wear a mask, of course.


If Covid were a major-league sport, like, say, Roller Derby, would you be ready for it?

Yes! If you were Adidas. Our man Fabio came up with the "Ready for Sport" campaign for them.

The result? While everybody else was getting sick, they were looking at a healthy bottom line.

Eventually, Fabio became so fabulous, Keds hired him away. The lesson? Be ready.

In the early days of the lockdown, a marketing guy and former college athlete at Adidas (officially, “adidas”, since capital As cost more) named Fabio Tambosi realized that sports could and should play an important role in how people successfully weathered the pandemic.

Sure, it was easy to focus and even obsess over the spread of the virus, the sick and the dying and the dead, and take a bleak view of the future.

And many in the advertising world and many brands bought into the bleakness. In fact, Forbes ran an article in April 2020 under the headline “Every COVID-19 Commercial Is Exactly The Same”.

You saw all these sappy, depressing, disempowering ads — with their emphasis on phrases like “times like these” and “now more than ever” and “we’ll get through this together.”

But Fabio had a different idea.

Fabio saw that sport and fitness were ways of coping.

He saw that many were already turning to sport as a way of coping. He heard this during Zoom conferences he did with customers around the world, and then he watched as the global demand for home fitness equipment grew.

As a former collegiate athlete himself, he no doubt could use his own experience to know that one of the most empowering things we could do during the pandemic for our minds and our bodies was to prepare for battle — to be “Ready for Sport.”

So instead of buying into the doom and gloom, he decided Adidas should commit itself to sharing a persistent message of optimism and resilience inspired by the stories of the company’s stable of committed all-star athletes around the world.

After all, in many ways, a pandemic is like a tortuous sporting event—when the going gets tough, do you quit? Or do you vow to yourself and your team to do whatever it takes to be the victor?

Tambosi got to work, and what followed was an 18-part unscripted video series from Adidas called Ready for Sport that stars some of the most famous and successful athletes in the world as well as many amateurs who are just like you and us, and, you know, Beyoncé.

Even as life returns to normal, the series is an inspirational and heart-thumping reminder of what we’ve all been through, and why the lessons that sports and competition teach are often some of the most valuable lessons in life under all kinds of circumstances.

Fabio: ‘sport can bring three things to people: joy, optimism and resilience.’

As Tambosi said in an interview about the Ready for Sport” video series, …our core belief [is] that sport can change the world and bring three things to people: joy, optimism and resilience.

For Adidas, it became one of the most impactful and highest viewed campaigns in the company’s history.

And things worked out pretty well for Tambosi, too: just 12 months after he began work on Ready for Sport” he was named Chief Marketing Officer for another major athletic shoe company, Wolverine, the company that makes Keds, Harley-Davidson biker boots and Hush Puppies. Clearly, Fabio was “ready to jump.”

Ready for more? You can see all 18 videos in the Ready for Sport” series here.