Russell Athletic Seeks Digital 'Declarations'

Football-huddle-BIn the latest iteration of the brand’s Together We R campaign, Russell Athletic isn’t just sending its message of teamwork out to young football players: It’s asking them to complete a digital “Declaration” page, pledging allegiance to their team. They can also upload photos, and follow the declarations of others on the brand’s Tumblr page.

The digital effort supports the new “Declaration” spot, which broke with the beginning of the college football season. Ads are running on football programming, including ABC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, says Kelly Sheets Thompson, SVP/brand communications for Fruit of the Loom, which owns Russell. Home page takeovers are scheduled for CBSSports.com and ESPN.com. Ads are also set to run on the CBS app on Android phones.

The Bowling Green, Ky.-based company will continue to run last year’s “Plural,” Sheets Thompson tells Marketing Daily, which relies on an off-camera narrator for its dramatic voiceover. “But this year, we wanted to bring a face to the effort, so we now use an on-camera athlete to tell the story,” she says. But unlike other athletic brands, which focus on famous faces, this is an unknown player, and other players in the spot wear jerseys marked simply “Teammate” or “Declaration.”

“While we are all created equal, teams are not,” he tells the viewer. “Teams venture into uncharted waters. Challenge the laws of physics. And pull off the impossible, together. I play for a team.”

She says the campaign underscores the brand’s long pedigree in team sports. “We’ve been on the playing field 50 years, and our team focus, plus our heritage and longevity, make us unique.”

She says the company will spend about $7 million in advertising, and the spots will run up through Dec. 28, the date the Russell Athletic Bowl is scheduled for Orlando. (It is the brand’s first year of sponsorship; it was formerly the Champs Sport Bowl.)

The digital “Declaration” campaign is scheduled to be refreshed every two weeks, asking people to contribute along different themes. Over the 14-week season, the brand plans to release seven digital videos that tie into those themes, including Rite of Passage, Promise, Sacrifice, Teammates, Brothers and Together We R.

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