Getting to grips with global positioning
In today’s global society, brands that do not stand for something are expecting their consumers to fall for anything and the ability to rise above the norm in a market will soon be the measure of global success versus universal failure. The challenge to find a higher order purpose for a brand that is differentiating and compelling is becoming harder and harder.
So, when a relatively niche sports brand takes centre stage on the hottest global debate in sports, it is playing hard ball with many of the established brands that have spent the last decade mimicking each other rather than standing out from the crowd. SKINS, a technically advanced sports clothing brand designed to increase muscle compression and therefore performance, has stepped into the centre of the debate on drug free sports at a global level. No mean ambition and certainly one that journalists and broadcasters the world over would be happy to get their teeth into.
Finding the right podium to celebrate your brand
Most brands seeking to raise their profile by associating with sport, would look to support the best, the highest profile and the most prolific sportsmen or women in their chosen sport. But when you’re slugging it out, with the likes of Nike and adidas and the personalities they have already signed, following that particular route, as a relatively niche brand from Australia, could be nothing more than commercial folly.
That is what makes the platform that SKINS have adopted so bold. Faced with an entry ticket that runs into many millions just to secure the right spokesperson before a dollar is spent on conventional marketing, SKINS found a route that could give them a breakthrough that has already got the journalists excited and the sports enthusiast seeking out their products.
Doping in sport dates back to the original Greek Games when the athletes used to gorge themselves on meats and take hallucinogenic herbs to enhance their performance or overcome their fear. But in today’s sports where the stakes are high and the sponsorship deals even higher, doping has been exposed as cheating and outlawed wherever professional sport is played.
But brands are constantly seduced into attaching their name to an outstanding athlete and run the gauntlet of becoming tainted by the fall in grace, should that personality then get exposed as a cheating fraud who has lived a lie. The prime example most recently would be Lance Armstrong who overnight lost his sporting accolades. His multimillion dollar sponsorships, his reputation as one of the greatest sportsmen of his generation and his positive profile in the media evaporated. His name, the sport and the brands associated with it were plunged into a dark era of distrust and dishonour.
So when sports clothing range SKINS elects to build a global movement, #ChooseTheRightTrack, to completely eradicate doping from sports everywhere, and recruits as its spokesperson, Ben Johnson who became the fastest man on the planet in 1988, only to be stripped of the title 24 hours later, it is on course to pack a media punch way beyond the marketing investment.
The initiative aims to celebrate the true spirit of sport and fight against cheating of any type. Not only does it propel the brands higher purpose as an organisation, it creates a core value around it that consumers can relate to. A bold move for any sporting brand but ultimately a move that is to be admired. Not least because they secured Ben Johnson’s services for free, adding a genuine commitment from possibly the highest profile disgraced Olympian of all time. And, in building the marketing story, they have developed content that shows Johnson to be genuinely contrite and committed to the cause of fairness in sport. The campaign’s highlight will take place in the Seoul Olympic Stadium on 24th September; 25 years to the day that Johnson won gold. His words will echo in stadiums around the world as he speaks out to guide a new generation not to make the same mistakes he made.
Will this campaign deliver everything SKINS should expect? It should, and plenty more besides. Above all it is bold. It is confident. It is breaking with accepted practices. Everything a truly talented sportsman would do if they wanted to make a game changing impact on their chosen profession. Hopefully this campaign will get all the payback it deserves for the sheer audacity of its conception.
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