Speedo has launched its largest ever digital effort, which centers on a new site called the Speedo Pace Club, an experiential site where e-commerce plays a secondary role to the real purpose: brand building by making Speedo the place to go for motivation, structured training information, and content by famous swimmers like Michael Phelps. The site, via New York-based Syrup, also has a smartphone iteration available as an app.
Omino Gardezi, CEO of LBi Group's New York-based shop Syrup, the agency that built the project starting last November, tells Marketing Daily that the purpose is to reach a broader audience and expand the brand value. "Speedo commissioned us to expand their digital presence in an innovative way and add more value beyond and expand the markets beyond the school and competition."
The idea, he says, is to appeal not just to performance swimmers, but fitness enthusiasts in general.
Content is divided into sections on training; a proprietary social platform called Swim Team; Splash Tags, a swimming pool, team, and program locator; athlete blogs; and product insight. Ben Abramowitz, creative director at Syrup, says the training content is structured into four modules for beginners, advanced beginners, intermediate and advanced swimmers.
There is also a training module focused purely on swimming technique that features videos featuring Speedo Olympic Coaches Teri McKeever and Dave Salo. The videos use something called a "Phantom Flex" camera that shoots submerged at high speed.
The Swim Team social platform allows swimmers to link to each other on the site via Facebook and Twitter. It incorporates such virtual rewards as digital "badges" and "high fives" on the site. But if users are not active for a period of time they phone messages from Team Speedo's Olympic coaches that meant to get them back to their workouts.
The app version is a free download in the iTunes App Store.
Gardezi says the Pro Athlete Blog section of the site features 12 swimmers -- Team Speedo, comprising athletes like Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Natalie Coughlin, and Garrett Weber-Gale -- with much of the content by the athletes themselves, exclusively for Pace Club.
Digital advertising, social-media activity at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and targeted outreach to swim teams and swim clubs will drive traffic. Also, the new Speedo 2012 Racing Catalog for the first time uses QR codes linked to Pace Club videos. "We have a fair amount of traditional banners on swimming sites, and a strong social media engine driven by the athletes themselves," he says.