Reebok Campaign Attempts To ‘Reeconnect’ With Fun

Reebok is launching  a revamp, or perhaps a “reevamp” of its image this month with a global campaign built around the “Ree” in its name.

Initially, the campaign, via DDB Berlin, will focus on two relatively new products: Easytone and ZigTech. The former, which was introduced last year, is a sole technology designed to keep the wearer slightly off-balance, which is said to challenge the gluteus maximus 28 percent more than standard shoes, resulting in a more muscular buttocks.

An introductory ad for Easytone, which is aimed at women, featured an attractive female announcer discussing the product as the camera keeps drifting southward to check out her butt and legs. A new spot, which features the “Reetone” tagline, is even more butt-centric and shows a montage of well-toned female butts in various stages of dress bopping around to an upbeat funk song. Print ads have the same focus. They are rear, waist-down shots of women in tight shorts walking the dog and down the stairs.

While the new TV spot for EasyTone will break in April, Reebok is also planning to release an ad for ZigTech, a wavy foam platform that is designed to transfer energy from the heel to the front of the foot. Ads for that product, breaking this spring, will include the tag “ReeZig.”

The initial spots may be product-focused, but the intent is to redefine Reebok’s brand positioning, said Rich Prenderville, head of global brand marketing for Reebok. While Nike’s ads speak of grim asceticism (“Just do it”) and Reebok sister brand Adidas’ ads refer to reaching and smashing goals (“Impossible is nothing”), Reebok is meant to stand for the fun of sports. “Our brand has always had a little different perspective,” said Prenderville. “Fun and sport is at the heart of what we do.”

The goal of the campaign, said Reebok rep Daniel Sarro, is to get consumers to “reethink” their perceptions of sports “and remember why they play, sweat and cheer—because it’s fun.”

The campaign hits as Easytone appears to be catching on. Parent company Adidas reported that Reebok’s North American sales rose 4 percent—its largest increase in four years—on the strength of that launch. Reebok expects to sell 5 million pairs of the sneakers this year, which will result in between $325 million and $375 million in sales. Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer also told analysts that the company plans to put its largest investment behind Reebok since it purchased the brand in 2006.

Prenderville did not disclose the spending on the campaign. Reebok spent $22 million on measured media in 2009, an increase of 101 percent over the previous year, per the Nielsen Co. Those figures do not include online spending.

Matt Powell, an analyst with SportsOneSource in Charlotte, N.C., said Reebok’s market share was about 8 percent when Adidas bought it, and it kept falling after that as the brand distanced itself from a discounting strategy. “Before Adidas, Reebok was very deal-oriented, offering steep discounts to retailers,” he said. “When Adidas took over, they needed that.” Powell said that the brand rebounced to a 3.7 percent market share in the fourth quarter, from a low of 2.6 percent.

“They’ve got their legs under them,” said Powell. “They were a women’s performance brand, and they’re getting back to that.”