Every four years, during the world’s most prestigious athletic competition, big brands gain a lot of marketing traction around the athletes they represent. However, non-event sponsors like ASICS are limited in their messaging due to certain restrictions. In the 2016 event, ASICS tasked Red Door to develop a campaign that would allow them to still be part of the consumer conversation.
The biggest challenge was clear—we needed to devise a unique strategy that would differentiate the ASICS brand from its deep-pocketed competitors, while also staying in accordance with the rules.
Instead of focusing on the athletes themselves, we decided to change the conversation and build a story around the phenomenon that fuels them—their fans. Our resulting Power of Fans campaign delivered a best-in-class social experience leading up to and during the big event, while engaging ASICS elite athletes on a global level.
We knew that the ASICS online audience would be turning to their phones to gather information and updates, as well as interact with other sports fans. To reach consumers where they already were, we spearheaded user-generated content with a hashtag photo contest and seeded the concept to ASICS elite athletes, allowing conversations to spark naturally. All media for the campaign was targeted on mobile through Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
We conducted social listening to gather further information on how to best reach this audience. Through our insights, we encouraged ASICS athletes to engage with fans using the #PowerofFans hashtag on their own social media channels, sharing their personal fan stories and motivations. The athletes' influence ultimately helped us gain 5 million impressions before the campaign had even officially launched.
By focusing on the fans, the consumer became the hero of the story, and simultaneously differentiated ASICS from its competition with such a unique concept. Collecting data about fans from an emotional and scientific point of view provided insight into the fan experience as well as the fans’ impact on the athletes.
The Power of Fans campaign marked the first time ASICS was able to enter into the conversation during the blackout period of Rule 40, as well as the first time ASICS activated several sponsored athletes in a global campaign. The consumer-centric idea encouraged user generated content and worked to generate more hype for the campaign, increasing its success overall. By changing the story to focus on the fans, we transformed this marketing constraint into a brand opportunity.
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New York City Marathon