Two months after signing Simone Biles as a brand partner, Athleta is out with two new spots featuring both the Olympian gymnast and track and field champion Allyson Felix. Both campaigns continue Athleta’s longtime brand message of female empowerment and success through unity.
Debuting today, “The Power of We” is Athleta’s first marketing push with Biles since the Gap Inc.-owned brand lured her away from Nike in April. The campaign includes 30-second and 15-second spots that show Biles near the balance beam, ready for a routine. At first, she appears alone, but it gradually becomes apparent that she is surrounded by her community of friends, family and fans. “Power of She. Powered by We,” text reads. “Alone we are strong, united we thrive.”
The new work featuring Biles, which will be in print, in retail stores and on digital and social channels, was created with Yard NYC and director Danielle Levitt. Biles will also be designing a collection of apparel for Athleta Girl and will work on advocacy efforts for younger athletes as part of the deal. And Athleta is a presenting sponsor for Biles’ Gold Over America tour.
“Simone embodies everything Athleta stands for, from inspiring women and girls to have the confidence to pursue their passions to leaning on the strength of her community,” said Kyle Andrew, who recently joined Athleta as chief brand officer, in a statement. “For our first campaign, it was important for us to bring these shared values to life.”
Andrew noted that Athleta is “reimagining what it means to sponsor an athlete,” by working with Biles as a partner and “showing that there’s more to her than just gold medals.”
The distinction is one that could continue to set Athleta apart from sportswear rival Nike, which formerly had endorsements with both Biles and Felix. Analysts expect Athleta, now a $1 billion brand, to continue to build up its roster of like-minded female partners as it communicates a message of authenticity that can be lacking from larger brands that are not solely female-focused.
To that end, next week, Athleta will release a new video showcasing Felix, ahead of the runner’s second capsule collection of apparel. In the 30-second spot, the gold medalist is seen communing with her mother, Marlean Felix, in between training sessions. Felix is also shown with her young daughter Cammy in the digital campaign, which was created internally.
“If they’re going to write about you give them something to say. And baby girl, you have something to say—for you, for her and everyone that comes after her,” the elder Felix says. “All this talk about going down in history—you’re only going up from here.”
Felix had been sponsored by Nike, but after openly criticizing the brand two years ago for its lack of support for its pregnant athletes, she signed on with Athleta. Her first apparel line debuted last August. The new eight-piece collection includes a bodysuit, jacket, shorts and sports bra. Felix collaborated with Athleta Head Designer Casey Schumacher.
“This collection celebrates our commitment to performance for women and their life in motion,” Felix said in a statement. “I want everyone who wears it to feel powerful and believe in their own strength.”
Despite changing consumer apparel tastes as vaccinations push Americans outside and into more formal events, Athleta has not seen a slowdown in sales. Its net sales jumped 56% to $347 million in the most recent quarter versus a year earlier. Parent company Gap Inc. called out Athleta's “purpose-led marketing” as a factor in driving record gains for regular-priced products versus discounted items, an issue sister brands such as Old Navy and Gap have long struggled with as shoppers are trained to expect sales.