Want Bigger Ideas? On Says All You Need To Do Is Run.

Running-shoe ads usually offer more speed or less pain. On is basing its new campaign on a much brainier idea: promising it can help you run your way to big ideas. The new campaign, working closely with creativity experts to develop a 30-day challenge, is based on the conviction that running leads to flow, that beautiful sense of being fully absorbed in an activity. And flow, it says, leads to more creative, innovative thinking.

"Our brand mission is to ignite the human spirit through movement," says Alex Griffin, On's global head of marketing. "And we focus not just on what running can do for you physically, but what it can do for you mentally."

The effort isn't just an ad campaign–it's a science experiment. In partnership with the Flow Research Collective, it includes two well-known creative innovators acting as big-idea guinea pigs.



The 30-day challenge follows Amber Mark, a singer, songwriter and producer, and Andrew Rea, aka "Babish," one of YouTube's most prolific creators. The first-time runners are documenting its influence on their creative flow.

The company is running documentary-style videos on social media channels and using out-of-home, strategically placed near creative enclaves in Berlin, London, New York, Beijing, Wuhan, Shanghai and Chengdu. It created the campaign internally.

"We've taken a global concept and applied it with a more regional lens, appealing to innovation neighborhoods around the world," Griffin says.

Mark and Rea are detailing their experiences on their social media channels, including Instagram and TikTok.

The campaign is a deliberate effort to capitalize on running's surge in popularity, sparked by the pandemic. "Many of those new people have come to us as a brand. We now want to appeal to them on a different level."

The growing fan base has been great for On's business. Last month, On posted a 66% increase in its second-quarter sales to about $300 million. Wholesale results rose 70%, and D2C sales jumped 61%. The Swiss company says its North American sales have been robust, up 103% in the quarter.

Other high-end performance brands, including Hoka One One and Brooks, are also flourishing.

It's not that On doesn't do product-focused marketing, emphasizing fit and comfort and speed. It does, Griffin says. "But this is about something more than that. Something deeper than nice, soft shoes. The neurochemicals that are released when you run, especially when you find the flow state–that's when you can have some amazing ideas."

Billboards tout some of those running-discovered ideas, from the metaverse to traveling to mars.

At least some of the newer runners may likely fade away as shin splints set in, and "normal" life offers more access to gyms and fitness studios.

"But anecdotally, we hear that they're sticking around and looking for more. They've found the beauty in the outdoors. They've found the benefits in reconnecting with whatever nature they have on their doorstep," he says. "This doesn't seem to be a flash in the pan."

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