Reebok unveils a cross-platform, $30mm campaign to support its new “Run Easy” tagline.Â The intro spot in 1:00 and :30 features pairs of runners (celebrities including NBA’s Allen Iverson, soccer star Thierry Henry and track athletes Carolina Kluft and Aries Merritt) chatting while running at a relaxed pace.Â The conversations are intercut to add a comic effect.Â The website features social networking functionality, allowing visitors to upload their favorite runs and tunes and share photos as well as chatting.Â The campaign takes a direct poke at Nike with the line “I am what I am,” and lines such as “What are you just doing?”
The Run Easy campaign is a breath of fresh air from Reebok in a category obsessed with an obsessive attitude towards athletics.Â Nike has been successful positioning its brand to serious athletes, thus attracting millions of other consumers who admire but do not imitate this level of dedication.Â Too often both Reebok and Adidas ad campaigns have looked like pale clones of the original Nike strategy.Â This new multimedia campaign from Reebok aims to position Reebok squarely with casual athletes.Â It is a risky but worthwhile endeavor.
We are most impressed that Reebok understands that it cannot own women as it once did (during the early days of aerobics) and needs to find meaningful differentiation from Nike.Â Run Easy is appealing because it is not a statement of ability but of purpose.Â Reebok uses the spots to show consumers that there are multiple reasons that people exercise, and that one of the primary reasons is social.Â Social exercising is obviously still healthy, but considerably more pleasant. Using professional athletes gives ordinary people permission to take a more social and relaxed attitude towards their exercise and seeks to build expertise for Reebok as the brand that connects people through running.Â The campaign aggressively targets Nike (as in the print execution above which chides “What are you just doing? Run easy”) and seeks to put Reebok in a separate orbit.
The online aspects of this campaign are slick and well-executed.Â It’s too early to know whether Reebok can attract a real community of runners but it seems distinctly possible given the tools they’ve given consumers to share and interact.
There is no doubt that Reebok has hit on a relevant cultural and social message, and this alone should build credibility for Reebok.Â However it is less certain whether consumers will perceive “social exercise” as an ownable area of expertise.Â The question for Reebok is whether consumer will take the message, relax their attitudes but still buy Nikes because they are what serious athletes wear.Â Reebok is in new territory, trying to understand how to make social running aspirational.Â Which is why they used professional athletes in these spots.Â This was also somewhat jarring because it seemed out of context, but it was understandable given the challenge Reebok faces.
Executionally, our sole complaint is that we would have liked to see more of the Reebok brand earlier in the spot – the usual client-side whine.
Branding Bottom Line:
Reebok smacks Nike with common sense.Â We like it.