Champion Makes Lifestyle Push

NEW YORK Champion is out to prove that it is more than just your gym clothes.

The Hanes subsidiary this week launches an estimated $25 million-plus “How you play” campaign. In this its biggest effort in a decade Champion is being positioned as clothes for the gym, for play, for your life.

“The strategy is to engage the twentysomething consumer, which is the right place for the Champion brand, with creative that shows the genuine, approachable sports activities in everyday life,” said Claire Edgar, director of brand marketing for Champion, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Champion’s challenge is to make the brand appeal to a younger audience. It is best known among consumers ages 30-50 who discovered the brand in college. To date, it’s still No. 1 in branded, collegiate memorabilia apparel, per Edgar.

Print ads, out-of-home and an online component, per Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, are “about people being active in a social space; a pick-up football game, a guy and a girl wrestling,” said Edgar.

This campaign spend is significant, especially considering Champion spent nothing on measured media last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Its biggest spend in recent history was $13 million in 2003.

Part of the reason the sector has been successful is the fact that consumers now incorporate athletic wear into the more casual facets of their lifestyle.

“There’s also a huge trend of mixing and matching athletic clothes for many more occasions,” said Edgar. “As we look to the future, with activewear becoming more of a lifestyle thing, we felt that we needed to come out with a big campaign to capture that twentysomething audience and accelerate our growth.”