Adidas are hoping to change the face of influencer marketing with the launch of ‘Tango Squads’, communities of hyper-connected football obsessives operating on direct messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp.

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Named after one of adidas’ first footballs, the Tango Squads are groups of socially savvy 16-19-year-old football content creators living in 15 cities worldwide. While the squads are between 100 and 250 people, adidas hopes to reach a maximum of 500 members per squad by 2017.

Each group is managed by an adidas in-house team, who share exclusive content and new products with the group before they are even unveiled on adidas’ Twitter or Facebook channels.

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Currently, 70% of global brand referrals happen on dark social, not via Twitter or Facebook, explained adidas Senior Director of Global Brand Communications, Florian Alt, speaking at the Festival of Marketing about the value brands can add by gaining mentions in the private message sphere.

“At the moment a lot of brands are approaching social media as a publishing job with pre-set and pre-defined agendas. With the Tango Squad project, we have a great opportunity. It’s a different way to produce content and speak to your communities.

“It’s about sheer reach, what the hyper – connected kids bring is mass awareness. These are the guys who will push out your stories and content. They give it longevity and authenticity because they are talking in a private message environment. If it comes as a referral from your mate, you’re much more likely to pick it up than if it comes from a brand.”

The Tango Squad fulfil adidas’ desire to be a responsive brand, working on co-creation with consumers in key cities.

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