The Classic, featuring Feyenoord and Ajax, is the biggest football match in the Netherlands. Every time it’s played the rivalry between Rotterdam and Amsterdam peaks, leading to tension and animosity between fans. There’s even a ban on away fans after continuous riots whenever the game came up.
As the sponsor of both teams, adidas wanted to create a piece of shareable content that celebrated the 2016 Classic in a positive, respectful and fun way, without adding more fire to the flames.
This created a problem: how do we show and celebrate the rivalry of the biggest game in the Netherlands, without provoking the fans?
Our idea also had to tie in with adidas' payoff: "first never follows", a line about not following the crowd, doing your own thing and challenging whatever is ahead of you.
A big part of the rivalry is fought online before the game, with fans throwing around serious insults, provoking each other further.
That got us thinking: if they like trash-talking so much, what if we showed them what good, smart banter looks like.
The idea was to pitch two comedians, Feyenoord fan Jandino Asporaat and Ajax addict Roue Verveer, against each other and let the one-upmanship banter flow.
They visited the Feyenoord and Ajax stadiums together, where every trophy, seat and blade of grass turned into an opportunity for clever one-up-manship.
We released the two-and-a-half-minute film through the Feyenoord and Ajax social channels two days before The Classic. It didn't just celebrate the rivalry - it showed fans what healthy rivalry should look like, inspiring them with new, original jokes and fresh banter, true to the "first never follows" mentality.
In the 48 hours before the game, our film spread online like wildfire. Dozens of blogs and news sites picked it up and thousands of fans shared it on their own Facebook walls and Twitter feeds.
All in all, thanks to 8,616 shares, 72,998 likes and countless viewers who tagged their friends, 1,336,566 fans watched our film before kick-off. It even made national TV on talk show 'Pauw'.
The film also kicked off its own banter between the fans. Within it we found the same sentiment repeating over and over again:
"This is how rivalry should be."
adidas successfully celebrated the Classic, showing fans from both sides what healthy sporting rivalry should look like. Something these sworn enemies could agree on, for a change.