Levi, Nike and Virgin have produced smart commercials with the right references, which remain intensely characteristic; you would recognise them without their logos.
Adidas, home of the very-OK-to-insiders kind of retro trainer, looked as if it would join that group, with its emerging look, neat treatments and clever use of personalities. They had taken on Nike directly.
But the latest Adidas commercial seems to have lost the plot. Corporate really isn't cool and Coke gave up flags-of-all-nations 20 years ago. But for a whole minute in Adidas's advertisement every user group going - in that "all human life is here" style corporate advertisers of the oil and chemical variety love to use in the The News at Ten break - is displayed.
It's all very dark and gloomy, with a very dark and gloomy Fatboy Slim intro to make things worse. It seems shot for wide-screen too; everything looks stretched and foreshortened.
A variety of incantatory phrases, starting with "take", spins over endless sporty and sport-loving scenes in slo-mo. "Take" the local championship, they urge, tartan-skirted girls watch remote games. "Take" the World Cup, as a Third World family embraces in front of the TV. "Take" first place, they say to bicycle racers. And, to a losing middle-aged man, "take last place".
And on and on, through all the sport-loving cliches (black kids against art-graffiti, karate couples). "Take what you want" is the final command, followed by the logo and words "forever sport". They could be a bank for all the effort to target all and stay cool. But young advertising that works makes one distinctive statement at a time - calculating on making the best possible enemies.