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Serial brand killer Rishi Sunak has been at it again and put an end to a trend single-handedly. When the billionaire leader of the country donned a pair of box-fresh Adidas Sambas he instantly gave the brand a huge headache.

Back in November the German sportswear giant reportedly increased production of its iconic footwear range. The Evening Standard even described the shoe like a rat – never more than six feet away in the nation’s capital. But now, in the UK at least, Adidas may want to rethink those increased production targets. Even in our office, as I write, the usual trend-setting Launchers have opted to leave the Sambas at home.

Before I even knew what a career in PR was, I wrote my dissertation on Harold Wilson’s winning election campaigns which saw him harness the power of brands and the media successfully. Wilson was the first politician to do this well. He smoked a pipe, met the Beatles, talked about football, consumed HP Sauce to such an extent that it was nicknamed ‘Wilson’s gravy’ and embraced the power of television as a medium.

Would Wilson have killed off the Samba? They were designed in 1949, so he could have got his hands on a pair ahead of his election wins. But I’d take a guess that Wilson didn’t feel the need to replicate the trends of the twenty-somethings of the day – opting instead for popping up where he fit in and with who or what fit his persona (as an MP for an area of Liverpool, we can even accept him popping up with The Beatles).

Back to Rishi, modern-day politicians and their relationships with brands. The authenticity is completely absent. We’ve got a billionaire criticised for his £490 Prada loafers suddenly rocking up to a meeting in box fresh Sambas – with dark socks, trousers and a crisp white shirt.

The lack of that authenticity flips it completely the other way, where he looks completely out of touch, more so than if he embraced his own privileged position in a slightly less flashy way – wear something from Reiss, Charles Tyrwhitt or Suitsupply, it’s what we’d expect, and respect.

For Adidas, the level of fallout is unclear at this stage. Every newspaper might be reporting that the trend is over, but perhaps the Samba was at peak saturation as it was. The Adidas SL72 is tipped to be the next big (old) thing from the brand, so maybe not all is lost for Adidas. But some damage control must be underway – whether it’s seeding rumours of the next big sneaker, getting the right people into Sambas and its close sibling the Spezial, or lining up the next big collaboration, something Adidas has consistently done well during this cycle of its trainers being on trend. Sweeping this blip under the carpet like the latest Tory party controversy.

The takeout for brands: It’s all very well having mass appeal – but beware of those that seek mass appeal without the profile to carry it off.

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