To Win Gen Y, Reebok Hones Real-People Message

In its ongoing efforts to woo and inspire buff Millennials, Reebok is moving into the next phase of its real-fitness-for-real-people repositioning. It has ditched its complex vector logo, best known for the pro athletes who have worn it over the years, for a simple delta symbol that it says signals a much broader definition of fitness. And it’s using new ads to continue that repositioning, expanding the #LiveWithFire theme it launched last year.

The company’s new logo “reinforces that we are a fitness brand, focused not on famous athletes but on the everyday person and the role fitness plays in their lives,” Yan Martin, Reebok’s VP of global marketing, tells Marketing Daily. “The three sides represent the physical, mental and social elements of the fitness lifestyle. We are really striving to show that fitness isn’t something boring you do on a treadmill, or something solitary, like running alone. It’s something that is very challenging, and involves a larger community.”

Integral to that brand message, he says, are Reebok’s partnership with organizations like CrossFit; Les Mills, which includes classes like Body Pump and Body Combat, and the Spartan Race, a series of obstacle races.

The latest in #LiveWithFire is a TV spot, introduced last month, featuring a trio of young runners wearing its new ZQuick shoes in their own urban obstacle race, racing with trains and hurdling fellow commuters, all to the pulsing theme of “Underdog.” “These ads really showcase a sharp point of view for us,” he adds. “This is how we see running being done. They come out of the experience taller and better people, not just athletes.”

He says Reebok’s core audience is the fittest of what he calls “the new adults,” 25 to 30 years old. But Martin, in his early 40s and himself a CrossFitter and a Spartan racer, says the spirit of the campaign cuts across all age groups. Additional ads will appear later this year. (Reebok and DDB, which created the ZQuick ad, as well as the print, digital, and outdoor, have split. But it will continue to produce creative through this year.)

He says he feels Reebok has done a good job “moving the needle” so far, but acknowledges that it’s an ongoing process. “For many years, Reebok has been associated with professional sports, and we’re asking people to think about us in new way.”

Part of that means paying close attention to fitness trends in its core audience, including the popularity of CrossFit. “We try to stay very current, and to listen and observe. There is still a huge back-to-basics trend in fitness, the idea that functional movements can transform people. So it’s important that we focus not just on the products we sell them, but on workouts and communities they’re involved with. Those partnerships are very important.”

Meanwhile, some critics think the new mark looks more like the Imperial Shuttle from Star Wars than a sneaker logo. But others in the design community are giving it a thumbs-up. The new mark “represents a real strategic change of direction for the brand, and a new focus on what they want to stand for,” Peter Dixon, creative director at Prophet, the San Francisco-based brand consultancy, says. That’s the prerequisite for chucking an old logo and creating a new one, “and the linkage of a 'delta' and the transformations in mind, body and lifestyle make graphic and symbolic sense. The symbol is graphically bold, has a good shape and a strong 'figure ground' -- that also connotes some meaning.” 

In its most recent quarterly results, Adidas Group, which owns Reebok, says Reebok’s sales increased 5%.

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