Swimming superstar and Speedo’s top brand ambassador Michael Phelps fronts the aquatic brand’s new Pace Club – an online social community not dissimilar from the Nike + initiative for runners.
Phelps, who has been with Speedo since 2001 and who the brand awarded a $1m bonus after his record eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics (for which he wore Speedo’s high-tech LZR swim suit) sprinkles this community-based initiative with stardust. On the site Phelps will blog about his training and personal life and share fitness tips through videos.
However, Phelps isn’t the only Speedo sponsored star of the show, with other members of the US national team, like Jessica Hardy, also featuring heavily across the digital platform. Indeed, the initiative offers unprecedented access to the biggest swim stars in the world through the Pro Athlete Blog section of the site featuring content generated by Team Speedo athletes themselves.
Speedo USA, a division of The Warnaco Group (which itself licences the Speedo brand from Speedo International) unveils the Pace Club as a combined community and e-commerce digital hub.
Trumpeted as the brand’s biggest digital initiative to date, it targets (and empowers) swimmers of all levels) through video content, informative editorial, social activation and training modules for web and mobile platforms.
Designed by SYRUP (part of the LBi Group), Speedo says the concept for Pace Club was born as the brand realized that fitness and competitive swimmers were looking for tools and resources to help them ‘dive in’ and swim better. So the site provide users with a series of training modules that include 12 weeks of workouts, commentary and tips not just from Phelps and others Speedo sponsored stars, but also from Speedo’s own Olympic Coaches Teri McKeever and Dave Salo.
As workouts are completed, users can share their progress through their logged activity within Swim Team and via Facebook and Twitter. To mark certain levels of achievement, digital ‘badges’ are awarded to Pace Club members, and fellow members can offer encouragement through ‘high fives’ on the site. Following a period of inactivity on Swim Team, phone messages from Team Speedo’s Olympic coaches will encourage users to dive back in to their workouts!
Discount codes, distance-oriented badges and other rewards incentivize on-going participation for Speedo Pace Club users. It also provides a way to connect with other swimmers and their swimming friends on Facebook for the support, recognition and motivation they need to meet their goals and includes Splash Tags swimming pool locator
Pace Club is available as a free download in the iTunes App Store and is also available for Android.
The launch is supported by an integrated consumer and new media campaign aims at driving users to the site, with promotion through Facebook, Twitter and You Tube platforms and via its network of swim teams and swim clubs. Even the new Speedo 2012 Racing Catalogue includes QR codes linked to Pace Club videos.
Applying some of the technologies and tactics of Nike +’s groundbreaking runners community, Speedo is attempting to create a similarly deep brand experience that connects swimmers and provides them with utility and value.
The site also looks set to boost e-commerce and retail as well as engagement.
With Speedo’s track record community-powered experience the brand is well positioned to make the most of this approach to the online space. It also has the potential to evolve in several directions – such as connecting consumers and the swimming community with the US stars of London 2012 (and with their products too).
It also shows Speedo continuing to stand strongly behind its star swimmer – despite the negative publicity following the release of a photo of him smoking from a bong.