Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The North Face Launches Role Models Challenge

Now that school is out, the North Face has decided it's time to start a movement for outdoor exploration and get the whole family outside. This week, the North Face rolled out their Role Models campaign, which lives in a Facebook tab on TNF's brand page. The goal of the campaign is to empower outdoor enthusiasts to share their passion and create a new generation of explorers.

The campaign asks participants to pledge their commitment to sharing the beauty of the outdoors with someone this summer, whether it be a family member, friend, or stranger. Those who take the pledge and share photos of the experience are automatically entered to win TNF gear to guide their outdoor adventures. TNF will also donate $1 to the Child and Nature Network for each pledge they receive, with the ultimate goal of recruiting $10,000 pledges throughout the campaign.  

Accompanying the online experience is a Role Models Clinic Tour, on which TNF's team of athletes will travel to TNF and REI stores across the country to give tips for getting outside as a family and share their experiences with their own children.

Though this is quite consistent with The North Face's mantra to "Never Stop Exploring," the campaign represents a departure from TNF's usual positioning as a solution for the hardcore athlete in the most extreme conditions. The Role Models campaign positions the outdoors as a family-friendly, welcoming environment for all to enjoy rather than a challenging conquest.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Merrell Taps Fashionable, Urban Audience

Launched in 2011, the Origins line is nothing new from Merrell. But a new spread for the Origins collection speaks to an audience largely different than their typical hard-core athlete, minimalist runner market for the Merrell Barefoot series. 

The Origins collection is a throwback footwear series that revisits the brand's history and reintroduces the classic designs that brought the company to the forefront of the footwear space in the late 80s and early 90s. The new ad, featured below, engages a younger, urban demographic of fashionable influencers. 

The spread is featured in WAD Magazine, a provocative France-based magazine that focuses on urban culture, style and art and seeks to highlight brands that are innovative in their messaging and design. The spread positions Merrell Origins as street wear, to be worn in an urban setting. This is slightly different than the way the Origins collection has been depicted in previous messaging.

Shown above, the older Origins ads, though quite fashion-forward, still place the shoe in an outdoorsy, picturesque nature setting. I'm interested to see what's next from Merrell, and whether the new spread will surface in the United States. The ad below is what we're used to seeing from Merrell stateside.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Under Armour Introduces Spine Footwear Line

With minimalist footwear dominating the running conversation these days, it's easy to forget about athletes who don't wish to adopt to this kind of lifestyle yet still need a great running shoe. But Under Armour hasn't.  Committed to their mission of bettering athletes through the relentless pursuit of innovation, UA will introduce the Spine RPM footwear line, available in stores July 9.

Spine, aptly named for a responsive inner core that's inspired by the function of the human spine, is designed to be lightweight and provide strong foot support for athletes who use running as an integral component of training. The shoe uses revolutionary Micro G foam for flexibility and a Spine Cage in the sole to keep the foot locked in place.

The shoe will launch in conjunction with an extensive, integrated advertising campaign, titled "This is How We Run." The campaign will launch across TV, print, digital, and social channels and will include appearances by world famous athletes and shoe spokespersons Tom Brady, Lindsey Vonn, Cam Newton and Kemba Walker. Spine invites all athletes, not just hard core runners, to join the Under Armour family. 

Not surprisingly, "This is How We Run" is expected to UA's biggest marketing push to date. In what UA CEO Kevin Plank calls a "transformative moment for the brand and for the performance footwear landscape," the launch could potentially shift some focus away from the barefoot running movement and revisit the general athlete.  According to UA executives, the next move will be to extend the Spine prototype into baseball, basketball, and football shoes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Adidas Launches Tumblr Campaign

About two months ago, we learned that Tumblr was inviting brands to leverage the platform in order to reach consumers. Last week, the blog site teamed up with Adidas in a month-long advertising campaign launched in conjunction with the 2012 UEFA European Championship.

The site features static images, animated GIFs, and Youtube videos grouped in different categories that speak directly to the interests of Adidas's core audience of soccer fans. The blog also links to external sites like EPL Talk, a news site dedicated to the English Premiere League, and A Football Report, another online hub for soccer lovers.

The month-long Tumblr program earns Adidas a daily top posting in the Tumblr Radar slot on the user dashboard, which greatly increases the visibility of the post to the millions of loyal Tumblr users out there. It will also push Adidas posts to the top of the "football" category feed, which is accessible on the viewer sidebar.      


The creation of a Tumblr campaign is an incredibly strategic move for Adidas because of its concurrence with the European Championship. It allows the brand to deliver fresh content in real time to an incredibly engaged audience who might be seeking something extra, particularly because soccer certainly does not dominate the sports landscape in the United States. Without pushing any product message, Adidas interacts with and becomes top-of-mind for the online audience by providing an enjoyable and exciting experience.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Merrell Launches M-Connect

Barefoot runners rejoice, Merrell has announced it will greatly expand its athletic department with M-Connect, a new footwear series built to connect the outdoor athlete to a full range of activities. M-Connect includes four collections: the Mix Master Trail, Proterra Light Hiker, and upgraded versions of the flagship Road Glove and Bare Access prototypes. 

Deemed the "intelligent evolution of barefoot," M-Connect extends beyond road and trail running. The new series provides fast and responsive design that enables runners to enjoy the benefits of minimalist footwear inside the gym and up steeper hiking trails. For example, the Proterra Hiker, arguably the boldest of the pack, gives greater stability on rugged trails with enhanced cushioning and a large arch.       

M-Connect comes a response to the ever-increasing cohort of barefoot runners and Merrell's vision to expand the technology to new audiences. By aligning the technology with terrain, Merrell invites serious hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts to make barefoot a part of their athletic experience. The series will also likely infiltrate Merrell's loyal following of road runners who may want a different shoe to take on new challenges. 

M-Connect expects full launch for the Spring 2013 season.