Reebok is bringing CrossFit, the latest fitness phenomenon, to the masses.
The brand's new campaign, "The Sport of Fitness Has Arrived," highlights CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program that combines weightlifting and gymnastics, sprints and rowing, kettlebells and jump ropes. Named an Ad Age Hottest Brand in 2011, CrossFit is already booming. There are 3,500 affiliates in 61 countries, with about 50 added each week. But Reebok's new push, which includes a cinematic 60-second spot from McGarryBowen, is sure to stoke the fire.
The ad, which breaks during Sunday's NFL Divisional Playoff between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers, shows red shipping containers with white delta logos leaving Reebok's headquarters and being transported around the world. Eventually, one of the containers is opened to reveal people doing a CrossFit workout. The campaign will also include digital, print, out-of -home, guerilla and experiential marketing.
Viktoria Wallner, VP-brand marketing communications at Reebok, says the aim is to make CrossFit simply more accessible, rather than fully mainstream. To that end, the company plans to outfit shipping containers as mobile CrossFit gyms and deliver them to 50 locations around the world, as a means of encouraging people to try CrossFit.
Reebok inked a 10-year deal with CrossFit in 2010. It includes a co-branded apparel and footwear line, launched last fall, as well as sponsorship of the CrossFit Games, which are televised on ESPN. Reebok has also opened its own CrossFit "boxes," as the gyms are called, at or near its offices around the world. This spring it plans to open a combined gym and store location on Fifth Avenue in New York. The company says more than 400 employees a week complete Workouts of the Day -- or WODs -- and nearly 100 employees have completed CrossFit's Level 1 trainer course. Globally, nearly 1,000 Reebok employees participate in CrossFit.
While Reebok has participated in plenty of sports and fitness crazes over the years, it's immersion in CrossFit is unprecedented, said Ms. Wallner, who takes a daily CrossFit class.
"We had to learn internally what CrossFit was all about," said Ms. Wallner, of the brand's decision to wait more than a year and a half to launch any meaningful marketing support around the partnership. "We want our communications to be honest and true to CrossFit the brand, the athletes and the community. We had to get to know each other first."
Indeed, CrossFit has spawned a tight-knit community that is active in social media and includes everyone from teenagers to retirees, pregnant women to veterans.
"It's always tough to get into a culture as a big brand. That's why we've built up really slowly," said Ms. Wallner. "There will always be people that don't want big brands to join their culture and community. But we have gotten a lot of positive reactions as well."
"The Sport of Fitness Has Arrived" campaign will be Reebok's main marketing push for 2012, Ms. Wallner said. It will also highlight other Reebok products, such as RealFlex, ZigTech and EasyTone.
Dan Sarro, a Reebok spokesman, said the company is working on new creative for EasyTone, which has been the subject of scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission. In September, the FTC announced that Reebok agreed to a $25 million settlement to resolve charges that it deceptively advertised toning shoes and apparel.
"We're moving forward with EasyTone as a brand," Mr. Sarro said. "We recently did a comprehensive study on EasyTone and got some really positive results."