Sample Essay: Authenticity in Social Media Marketing: The Case of the Adidas Brand

Problem Statement

The analysis focuses on applying the concept of social media authenticity to the case of Adidas. When evaluating social media communications of sportswear companies (including Adidas), authors such as Graves (2021) and Johansson and Hiltula (2021) argued that focusing on inclusion, diversity and similar topics (e.g., gender equality) benefitted the business and market performance of such organisations. Nonetheless, the studies of Graves (2021) and Johansson and Hiltula (2021) failed to analyse whether Adidas has consistently distributed authentic social media messages when discussing the above subject areas. It is unknown whether the social media marketing strategy of Adidas is sufficiently authentic to benefit the firm’s business and market performance.


Defining Key Concepts: Social Media Authenticity

In social media communications, authenticity can be defined as the degree to which the recipients of messages evaluate the trustworthiness of different pieces of social media content (Maares et al., 2021). When analysing authenticity in contemporary social media communications, Audrezet et al. (2020) provided the following framework.

Figure 1: A Four-Part Framework of Social Media Authenticity

Source: Audrezet et al. (2020, p.563)


According to Audrezet et al. (2020), social media communications could be categorised into one of the four types of authenticity.

  • Fake authenticity denoted cases in which social media messages lack any sponsorship disclosures and are not passionate about the promoted products.
  • Disembodied authenticity covers cases in which digital communications are transparent about their promotional intentions but lack passion.
  • Fairytale authenticity refers to messages that lack any disclosures but are typically highly passionate.
  • Absolute authenticity focuses on including both explicit disclosure messages and being highly passionate about the promoted products or services.

Although Audrezet et al. (2020) provided a valid means of analysing the concept of authenticity in social media communications, the authors have failed to apply this framework to sportswear companies and Adidas in particular.


Authenticity in the Social Media Communications of Adidas

This sub-section refers to present-day social media communications of Adidas and evaluates whether the brand has attained absolute authenticity. Adidas typically focuses on images and videos covering the following topics (Stanciu, 2021).

  • Promoting new products such as Adidas’ running shoes.
  • Commenting on social issues including racial tensions in the US.
  • Outlining the firm’s stance on gender equality and similar topics.

Adidas demonstrates high levels of passion in its messages; Adidas’ Instagram communications about the recent Black Lives Matter protests in the US were explicit in their support of racial equality (Stanciu, 2021). Nonetheless, Adidas has so far failed to attain a high level of transparency. For instance, the company omits any sponsorship disclosures when including social media influencers in its communications.


Conclusions and Implications

The above analysis demonstrated that Adidas has not followed the absolute authenticity approach in its social media communications. Although the firm’s messages exhibited a high degree of passion, there was a lack of disclosures of sponsorship agreements and similar means of improving transparency (Audrezet et al., 2020; Stanciu, 2021). As a result, the company’s social media communications could be perceived as inauthentic by the end consumers, threatening Adidas’ performance. You can learn more about other brands’ social media presence here.



Audrezet, A., de Kerviler, G. and Moulard, J.G. (2020) “Authenticity under threat: When social media influencers need to go beyond self-presentation”, Journal of Business Research, 117 (1), pp. 557-569.

Graves, E. (2021) The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Marketing and Communication Strategies of Sportswear Companies, Tempe: Arizona State University.

Johansson, F. and Hiltula, M. (2021) The Effect of Social Media Marketing Activities on Brand Image and Brand Loyalty, Lulea: Lulea University of Technology.

Maares, P., Banjac, S. and Hanusch, F. (2021) “The labour of visual authenticity on social media: Exploring producers’ and audiences’ perceptions on Instagram”, Poetics, 84 (1), pp. 1-14.

Stanciu, T. (2021) “5 Key Takeaways From Adidas' Social Media Strategy”, [online] Available at: [Accessed on 16 September 2021].