Salomon may be a brand people are more likely to associate with the Swiss Alps than American football fans, but it hopes a regional Super Bowl buy can change all that.
The company, owned by Amer Sports, is using the Big Game to kick off “Welcome back to earth,” an inspirational brand awareness campaign. Unlike past marketing, which has targeted elite athletes and mountain purists looking to shave a few seconds off their race times, “we are now looking at the bottom of that pyramid, an audience we call achievers,” says Scott Mellin, Salomon’s global chief brand officer. “These are people who need the outdoors for mental and physical wellness. They’re less gear-centric and more into time with friends in the outdoors.”
This year’s ad narrative “invites humanity into the outdoors, moving from the couch to the mountains.”
The company spent 12 months researching, concepting and creating an approach that best demonstrated “the movement from the chaos and screens of the city to peace in nature,” he tells Marketing Daily. “We’re a global brand trading in more than 100 countries. We needed a technique and narrative that didn’t rely on copy.”
A 30-second version of the 90-second campaign is scheduled to air in the second half of Super Bowl LVIII in New York and San Francisco.
Mellin says it was also essential to convey the brand’s authenticity.
Salomon, which started in 1947 manufacturing ski edges, is best known as a ski-and-mountains brand. The company transitioned to footwear some 20 years ago when it was owned by Adidas. Salomon pioneered the trail running category when the sport was still called mountain racing. And among elite athletes, the brand has got plenty of street cred, sponsoring athletes like ultra-trail runner Courtney Dauwalter.
The effort is “anchored in this belief that Salomon should be the brand that welcomes people into the outdoors, moving from the couch to the mountain,” Mellin says. “It’s our rightful place in the universe.”
The challenge? The brand has less than 1% unaided awareness in the U.S. “We need to wake America up to our brand,” he says.
This campaign starts an intense test-and-learn period, with the company closely monitoring awareness scores and web traffic. Ads are also scheduled to run in the Summer Olympic Games in Paris. “And we’ll be back on TV in the fall, during NFL games.”
If those tests yield solid results, Mellin says national buys are likely in 2025.
The company settled on New York City and San Francisco, “where we have a good concentration of wholesale and direct-to-consumer opportunities.”
DDB Paris is the agency, working with Danish film director and screenwriter Martin de Thurah.
One element of the campaign targets a slightly different audience of young global creatives. Salomon’s Sportstyle shoes have caught the eye of young Parisian nonathletes, Mellin adds. “It wasn’t part of a marketing campaign or product strategy,” he says. “Yet it’s become the fastest-growing part of our business.”