September 23, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 14  

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Soccer goes vertical

OSAKA, Japan (AP) - Adidas is taking soccer to a new level.

As part of an ambitious global advertising campaign, Adidas Japan has created the world’s first vertical soccer field on the side of a building in downtown Osaka.

Pedestrians stopped in their tracks and gazed as two daring soccer players hung suspended from ropes while playing the beautiful game 12 stories above ground.

”I wasn’t at all nervous,” said 43-year-old Hisanori Kizu, who works as a window cleaner on Osaka skyscrapers when he’s not playing aerial soccer. “I’ve bungy-jumped a few times so this doesn’t bother me at all and it’s actually a lot of fun.” The living billboard, which will be on display until Thursday, is part of the company’s efforts to build on its success during the 2002 World Cup.

“We want to continue to surprise and engage the youth of Japan like we did during the World Cup,” Adidas Japan president Chritophe Bezu said in a release. “We consider it mandatory for our brand and our advertising.”

The routine, which is staged five times a day for 20 minutes on the wall of a sporting goods store, certainly achieved its desired effect.

Hundreds of people stopped, took photos and applauded as the two players kicked a ball, which is also attached to a rope.

“It’s awesome,” said 23-year-old student Yuki Shimamura. “I’ve never seen anything like it before and it certainly gets your attention.”

After Osaka, the players said they’d like to take their act to Times Square in New York.

Adidas Japan also has plans for a 250-metre long “Sonic Hedge” on Tokyo’s fashionable Omotesando street.

Four and a half metres in height, the street-level living wall will be made up of a variety of plants and grasses that will showcase a gallery of soccer-related messages delivered on live grass.

Japan has a reputation for quirky advertising campaigns.

The Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Central League clinched their first pennant in 18 years last week and companies are looking to cash in on the marketing opportunities.



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