Adidas-owned brand wants the attention of 20somethings

The ’90s are cool again, and Reebok is banking on that as it strives for revival. Under a new top marketer, the Adidas-owned sportswear brand has been making strides with re-issued product and digital improvements. Now, Reebok is breaking its largest campaign in five years with a message meant to make 20somethings halt in their tracks.

Melanie Boulden, a veteran marketer who joined Boston-based Reebok as global head of marketing and brand management from Crayola last year, notes that consumers have been primarily focused on larger competitors in the sportswear space. The new campaign, she says, “will give a jolt to maybe get people to consider taking another look” at Reebok. “We’re reclaiming our voice again,” she says.

Called “Sport the Unexpected,” the push blends lifestyle and performance into one cohesive branding effort. A 15-second spot debuting Monday, “Storm the Courts,” teases a longer 90-second digital video in which a game of streetball gets a new twist. The shorter version of the clip will run on TV through the spring, when a new video, “Back Where We Started,” will take over and air through the summer.

“We want to be seen as the alternative,” says Boulden. “We are a challenger brand.”

The campaign is part of a broader effort by Reebok to reclaim its late ’80s, early ’90s-era heyday when its chunky kicks were worn by the differentiated likes of Jane Fonda, Stevie Wonder and John Gotti. In recent years, however, Reebok has struggled to attract younger consumers who are lured by larger brands like Nike. Reebok has been devoting more resources to its e-commerce offerings, and will unveil a redesigned site at the end of this month. In addition, Reebok has been switching up its agency relationships. It tapped Mediacom as its new media agency last year; the company then appointed Deutsch global creative agency of record in February.

The new work is the last from Reebok’s former creative partner, Venables Bell & Partners. The campaign, which includes a third spot that will air during the back-to-school season and feature a “familiar face,” according to Boulden, will run through 2019; Deutsch will take over creative in 2020.

Experts say there is runway for Reebok’s growth. In a recent report, NPD Group retail analyst Matt Powell recently cited the rise of smaller brands including Reebok, New Balance and Skechers in 2018 sales.

“Small is the new big,” wrote Powell.

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About Author

Adrianne Pasquarelli

A reporter with Ad Age since 2015, Adrianne Pasquarelli covers the marketing strategies of retailers and financial institutions. She joined Ad Age after a dozen years of writing for Crain's New York Business, where she also focused on the retail industry. Over the course of her career, she has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the National Association of Real Estate Editors and the Jesse H. Neal Awards.

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