VitroRobertson Takes Asics Work a Step Further

Suggesting that a client’s product has an ugly past isn’t the safest approach, but it’s the route VitroRobertson takes in its latest campaign for Asics.

The effort includes eight print ads and the first TV spot from the Irvine, Calif., client in nearly a decade. It is meant to spark interest in the brand and remind Asics loyalists that they’ve made the right purchase, said Gerry Widmer, account group supervisor at the San Diego agency.

Asics, which makes athletic shoes, apparel and accessories, is spending $6 million on the campaign.

Client vp of marketing communications Gary Slayton said the move to broadcast was spurred by the improved awareness of the Asics brand. “If we did this three, four or five years ago, we would have been under the radar and would have presented a brand too many people didn’t know,” he said.

The campaign features the company’s Gel-Nimbus and Gel-Creed shoes and its seamless underwear. The tagline remains, “Keep running.”

Print ads breaking in July publications use primarily black-and-white images. One shows an older man preparing for a run. The headline reads, “Proud wearers of Asics shoes since way back in the days when they were ugly. The shoes, we mean. Not the people.” An ad for the underwear shows a male runner staring at lingerie-clad mannequins in a store window. It reads, “Once they try Asics, most people never change shoes. We hope that’s not the case with our seamless underwear.”

A 30-second TV spot breaking this fall shows a guy packing for a trip. When he discovers that he has no room for his Asics, he ditches his socks, underwear and T-shirts.

“We want to be honest and have a simple conversation with the consumer,” said Widmer.

VitroRobertson began working with Asics seven years ago. The campaign has moved from addressing general truths about running to the experiences of runners, and now to truths about Asics, Slayton said. “It may be a little uncomfortable, but we’re hoping it will [pique] people’s curiosity,” he said.

Print ads are running in sports, fitness and other publications. TV will air first in Boston, and may roll out to other markets next year.