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Reebok's Marketing VP Talks New Campaigns, Social Media Strategy

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Are you concerned about losing connections with local markets that interpret the brands differently?
No, because the brand means what the brand means. Our DNA should have the same representation whether we’re speaking to a consumer in Canada or Indonesia. What we do . . . is make sure we develop locally specific work.

By what criteria does Reebok pick the athletes in its ads?
We pick athletes that represent our brand. Any marketer is going to tell you that. But if you look at Reebok 10 years ago and you have the NBA draft, we were just going after the No. 1 draft pick, no matter who it was. This time around we were very, very specific with it. We had a relationship with [the Washington Wizards’] John Wall. We knew that John Wall had a similar DNA to our brand’s—a guy that’s playful, plays very hard, takes his game seriously, but doesn’t take himself as seriously.

When you use athletes you run the risk of the dreaded scandal that in turn sullies your brand. How do you weigh the risk-reward of this approach? Is that always a consideration?
Not really.

Why not?
First of all the athletes that we have on board are pretty straightforward. If you look at an athlete like Peyton Manning or [Pittsburgh Penquins center] Sidney Crosby . . . those guys are really focused on their games.

Well, at one point, people thought Tiger Wood was pretty straightforward too.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

It’s always a risk, but do you see it as a minimal risk with these guys?
Yeah, I think it’s a minimal risk and I don’t think it’s a risk that we need to mitigate. We’re in a great place here.

Did you opt for regular people in the EasyTone ads because the target is different?
It’s in keeping with how the target is different, but it’s also in keeping with the product [unique selling proposition]. If you look at the Zig, it’s more energy. It’s more energy for your game. It’s more energy for your training and it’s really a performance shoe [designed for] getting ready for sport or fitness. . . . EasyTone is an out-of-the-gym experience. So, you would use EasyTone in your day-to-day trips around the city and things like that to get more toning all day long. So, it’s just a different approach based on the product USP.