Reebok Repositions Via ‘Sport The Unexpected’ Platform Blending Sport, Lifestyle & Pop Culture

March saw Reebok launch a more irreverent and creative brand platform that aims to unify its fitness and lifestyle businesses under a single idea called ‘Sport The Unexpected’.


The new approach sees the sportswear brand move on from its ‘tough-sport’ focus and target 20-somethings around the planet with creative linked to the worlds of fashion and entertainment described by Reebok as ‘gymspiration’.


The platform launched on 11 March spearheaded by a teaser that sets out to ‘shock the system’, ‘shake up the old’ and ‘be the thing that no one sees coming’ to reflect the radical departure from Reebok’s previous five-year focus on tough fitness trends (like Crossfit and Spartan).


It aims to set the tone for a new creative approach focusing on irreverent films that will aim to establish Reebok as an alternative voice bridging sport, lifestyle and pop culture.



The spot debuted across all the brand’s digital and social channels



and the media plan for the new platform will be built around social and TV, while longer, 90-second cuts will be housed on Reebok.com.


The Reebok website is also being revamped and it will include an e-commerce vertical (especially as it doesn’t have the same number of bricks-and-mortar stores as its main competitors).


Created by agency Venables Bell, the new work sets out Reebok’s roadmap to growth in the expanding sportswear sector which aims to focus on the 20-something market (who the brand believes are too young to recall the brand’s early days as a radical challenger).


“Sport the Unexpected is a stake placed firmly in the ground,” according to Reebok’s head of marketing and brand management Melanie Boulden (who joined the company 10 months ago from Crayola).


“We have amazing global brand awareness and 20-somethings know about us, but they don’t really know us: what we stand for, our history, our heritage. They don’t know that we are bold, they don’t know about our distinctive point of view and they don’t know that we are daring. The work is really focused on this consumer.”




The fresh approach sees the brand move on from a tough fitness focused marketing strategy illustrated by campaigns such as its work with Ronda Rousey (see case study) and ‘BeMoreHuman’ (see case study).


The brand, an Adidas subsidiary, is backing the new creative vision with marketing budgets returning to the same levels of five or six years ago.


Structurally the approach aims to break Reebok’s classic rhythm of marketing ‘Classics’, ‘performance’ and ‘fashion’ separately as the new team is now convinced that consumer’s think more ‘holistically in a blended way’.


Thus ‘Sport the Unexpected’ will form a central creative brand base for the brand, its divisions and its product marketing


The new strategy also sees the brand’s previous swatch of local content distilled down in a smaller number of ‘big stories that will be translated and adapted by local and product-specific marketing teams.


This unified, central brand focus strategy saw Reebok to hire Deutsch (which has taken over as the core agency of record from Venables Bell – which created the ‘tough fitness positioning’ six years ago) which will lead the work establishing ‘one global voice’.


Boulden is also investing in boosting Reebok’s in-house analytics team to broaden and deepen the company’s customer and media spend understanding and to operate more flexibly and responsively.


“This industry moves fast and these consumers move fast. We have the ability to assess a trend, quickly react and get product into market. We’re fast, but I know there are people even faster than us,” explained Boulden.


“Speed is how you market today and speed is how you connect with consumers today. We have to make sure a global ecosystem is in place for us to react quickly.”
















Venables Bell


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