Friday, March 30, 2012

Snowboarding gets Shazamed

If you weren't planning on tuning in to Red Bull's Supernatural snowboarding competition on NBC this Saturday, I highly suggest it. It's going to be epic. The event will feature two hours of the raddest snowboarders in the world shredding through man-made obstacles, jumps and drops, and you can catch the madness from the point-of-view of the boarders as they tear down the slopes.

Thanks to the media-discovery Shazam Application and Contour, an industry leader in video storytelling, viewers nationwide can watch exclusive footage streaming straight from the helmets of top competitors and feel like a part of the action from their own living room.

Intermittent visual reminders throughout the event will prompt viewers to download the app and engage with it during the show, and boarders will urge their fans to get involved through their personal social network profiles. Once Shazam is activated, fans can can unlock content and connect with other viewers through Facebook and Twitter to keep the conversation going.

The Supernatural event is just one installment of the Red Bull Signature Series, an NBC broadcast featuring 35 hours of extreme programming that will roll out in the coming months. And though we've become accustomed to seeming some pretty intense stuff from the world's top athletes, a Red Bull stamp on this event means it's likely to be like nothing we've ever seen.

So the lesson here is that an event this disruptive should be paired with technology that's equally as mind-blowing to enhance the viewer experience. Like many other snow enthusiasts during this snowless winter, I didn't have a chance to hit the slopes these past few months. So a chance to land every jump and flip through the eyes of those competing is the next best thing. Check out the preview of Supernatural below, and follow along with the action Saturday at Twitter handle #supernatural.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tribesports Leads the Pack in Sports Social Networking

With the 2012 Summer Olympics kicking off in only a few short months, London is busy gearing up for one of most widely enjoyed, legendary sporting events in the world. And while most of us will never be Olympic athletes, it doesn't mean we can't strive to grow our athletic prowess and link up with other enthusiasts who share similar skills and interests. London's got us covered in this endeavor as well.

Tribesports is a London-based, social networking site that provides a hub for the sporting community to share advice, athletic interests, equipment preferences, and fitness challenges. The beta site launched last June, and it's quickly gaining momentum and revenue as more sports fans opt in.

Here's how it works: users first create a profile bio indicating sports they play, their favorite equipment, skill level and other sporting achievements. They can then create challenges to reach any number of goals, ranging from getting a better night's sleep, to training for a 5k, to eating only one bowl of cereal a day. Users can take on the challenges of other Tribesports members, and the site features a live feed of who's doing what.

The site stretches its social legs even further with the invention of "Tribes," which are active communities of users who share sporting interests and can be centered on a discipline, location, skill set, quirky attitude, or even preferences in running music. Through the Tribes vertical, users can organize events, schedule meetups, and seek advice from those at their skill level or more experienced athletes.

And then there's the product side of the platform. Using an intelligent aggregated shopping solution database, Tribesports enables users to search through millions of sports products from over 250 retailers and add their preferences and product reviews to their personal bios. Members can click through directly to retailers, and Tribesports takes commission on all products sold through the website.

The Tribesports community has huge influencing power within the athletic realm. According to website founder Steve Reid, "Sportspeople love talking about their equipment. On Tribesports users can search for more than 1 million products across over 1000 different sports, adding items to their equipment list, or wishlist and add reviews, ask questions or request validation on which equipment best suits their needs."

There's also a huge opportunity for brands to gain exposure within the site, as Tribesports can create targeted sponsorship and advertising packages for companies to directly target any type of athlete, from barefoot runners to archers, in specific markets.

Though sport-specific online communities multiply at an alarming rate, Tribesports is one of the first destinations for all athletic enthusiasts. It provides an easy to navigate interface and non-intimidating format for even the most novice athlete to connect with helpful members. We're excited to see how the site develops as more and more consumers seek to connect their online habits with offline activities.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Time Magazine Enters Sports Arena

With March Madness in full swing and 16 teams on the road to the Elite Eight, sports are at the forefront of American culture right now. In fact, they pretty much always are. So whether you roll your eyes and storm out of the room whenever someone puts on the game, or arrive two hours early to get the best seat on the couch, you might as well accept the role that sports have come to play in our society.

Time Magazine, known traditionally for their grasp on political, world, health, and entertainment news, has taken strides to make inroads with a wider group of consumers with the advent of Keeping Score, a sports blog.

The blog, housed in the Entertainment hub the magazine's online site, covers sports-related topics from around the world. But rather than covering the tireless flow of stats, trade agreements, contracts, salary caps, and lawsuits that plague the sporting world, Keeping Score takes a step back and evaluates the larger cultural, economic, and political implications of developments in sports.

As managing editor Catherine Sharick wrote in an internal memo, "Keeping score will be much more than a chronicle of games and statistics. It will explore the key issues and personalities, controversies and trends, driving the daily conversation about sports" (Adweek).

I think this is a great idea. I consider myself a huge sports fan, though I try not to occupy myself with the petty details that some sports fanatics can recite in their sleep. I will undoubtedly keep up with the blog, which provides a refreshing outlook on sports in general and at the issues of politics, health, economics, business and religion that surely come into play when dealing with sports. I also find the global scope of the blog fascinating, and it's interesting to see the different sports perspectives around the world.

This is a great example of looking at the bigger picture in order to better meet the needs of consumers, which I feel many companies so often forget to do. Sports, fitness, and outdoor activity can mean so many things to many different people, and it's important to take into account that these enthusiasts may have other areas of interest that influence their extracurricular activities.

Thanks to Keeping Score, I can now keep up with this month's excitement in college basketball while gaining a deeper understanding of other significant issues that may be at play here. (Go Syracuse!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Merrell Taps the Female Market with Barefoot

Last week, Merrell launched a microsite to reach and educate an audience of women who are involved or curious about joining the barefoot movement. The site is an extension of their commitment to the bareform running community, and the target market is exclusively female.

According to a study by the National Sporting Goods Association, there are now over 16.9 million women runners in the United States, which is a 23% increase since 2006 (PRWeb). Merrell seeks to interact with this widespread group of influencers by providing a forum to share personal stories, meet and set fitness goals, and engage with other runners through Merrell's social media hubs.

The site is a reaction to a discussion that took place at last year's NYC barefoot run, where participants voiced concern over the lack of female perspective within the barefoot running community.

Those involved in the discussion felt that the original focus of barefoot was centered on a male audience. Though the movement has since shifted to include a significant group of female enthusiasts, they are still often left out of the conversation by major barefoot brands.

Merrell has recognized the importance of leveraging the female voice and deeply engaging women, as these individuals are sometimes more socially active online and willing to share and listen to advice, ask questions and connect with one another.

The microsite, titled "Pretty Strong," also features a video that highlights the barefoot experiences of four fitness gurus in the Merrell community.

As Emily Snayd, a featured runner in the video explained in an interview with Merrell, "Once we get women engaged and feeling the way their bodies are made to move, we will help unlock the code of healthier running and fitness."

Helping women join the barefoot community will surely create growth for the minimalist running movement and continue to entrench the running style as a permanent component within the fitness realm.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Footwear Funday

As more and more brands enter the footwear category, we're excited to see what existing footwear companies will do to maintain a loyal fan base. To kick off this week, we've compiled a few recent initiatives by some players in the footwear arena.


Remaining steadfastly devoted to promoting environmental protection, Patagonia has partnered with to support the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). For every pair of Patagonia shoes purchased through between today, March 19th and April 2nd, Patagonia Footwear will donate $10 to AMC in an effort to support the Appalachian region.

The partnership is a component of Patagonia's Advocate Weeks program, which allows retail partners to pick a non-profit of their choice that focuses on issues of sustainability. The AMC has over 100,000 members and works to promote understanding and appreciation for the mountains, forests, and waters of Appalachia.


As an extension of their PUMA Social movement, PUMA recently launched "Better Out Than In," a spot that nods to the "late-night" athlete and acknowledges that athleticism is not limited exclusively to the court or field.

See the spot below:

The tone of the ad is a drastic departure from that of other footwear brands, who battle for the loyalty of performance athletes and competitive sports junkies. The ad shines light on the foosball fanatics, dart champions and karaoke connoisseurs of the night, spreading Puma Social's mantra of living life to the fullest and seeking adventure at every possible juncture.

The ad does not highlight PUMA's footwear or apparel products. Instead, it is imbued with emotion and hinges on the brand's traditional lifestyle messaging.

It certainly wouldn't be a footwear conversation without throwing Nike in the mix. They've recently launched a video showcasing their vision for the future of the Nike retail experience. The pop-up store, called Fuel Station, centers on the promotion of the upcoming Nike+ FuelBand product and features an interactive wall and other augmented reality and video recording functions. Check it out below.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A catalog you can touch in the cold

How many times have you been in the cold and cursed when you had to send a text? Why? because it means you have to remove your gloves and freeze your hands while you communicate with your loved one. But leave it to IKEA to create a solution not just for texting, but so you can easily flip through their catalog on your iPad, and keep your hands warm.

To launch their new iPad catalog, IKEA created "Beröra," a sewing kit that includes a conductive thread that you sew onto your own glove's index finger.

Main Highlights featured in their case study video:

-Product named "Beröra" which means "to touch"
-Reached all-time high click-rate in Norwegian history
-12,000 kits were gone in two weeks
-IKEA Catalog reached #1 in the App store
-Most downloaded IKEA catalog in the world per capita

Check out the case study video below put together by Ikea's agency SMFB:

Back in the states, this past Monday, Gizmodo writer Mario Aguilar stated "This is an injustice. We demand that like Swedish meatballs before it, the Beröra be brought to Americans so that next winter we might all touchscreen-enable our gloves. There is a bright future ahead in which winter will no longer dominate my tablet usage. It's up to Ikea to make this right. Do the right thing Ikea."

I'm with you Mario.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Off-Location Reporting from SXSW

If you're like me and were unable to make it to this year's South by Southwest Interactive Festival, you may be glued to your Twitter feed trying to keep up with all of the innovation,
collective brainstorming, and brilliant rhetoric happening at an alarming rate. After all, SXSW acts as a bellwether for all things tech we're going to see in 2012, so it's foolish not to tune into the buzz.

The 19th annual SXSW conference, which kicked off this past Friday in Austin, TX, gathers a swarm of the greatest minds in the digital space and the most tuned-in, savvy consumers under one roof. Attendees vie to be the first to broadcast new trends to those in their social networks, and are surely glued to their devices at all times.

To save you time and bandwidth, we've culled some highlights in the areas of brand marketing, mobile technology, web services....and even binge eating.

Brand Marketing

Though many scorn the presence of big brands as a departure from traditional SXSW protocol, marketers have entered the mix and are making their presence known. Though some brands attend simply to return home with an iPad full of notes about this year's hottest trends, others make waves by introducing services to the nation's largest audience of early adopters and vigilant influencers.

Chevrolet is one of a few big names in attendance this year. They're promoting Chevy via their own version of OnStar called Catch-a-Chevy, which offers a premium experience for conference attendees by shuttling them from event to event in cars filled with indie music and graffiti-art. Chris Perry, VP of U.S. marketing for GM, describes the initiative as an effort to reach out to social-media influencers: "All of the Chevy activiations at SXSW are focused on bringing value to the participants while giving them a positive experience with our brand," (Ad Age).

Kraft is also generating brand buzz by hosting oreo-branded ice cream socials, placing mac-and-cheese trucks throughout the SXSW grounds, and offering Wi-Fi hotspots and charging stations.

Mobile Applications
The latest in mobile technology is always a top area of interest for entrepreneurs, developers, and consumers at SXSW. This year, a new technology called Highlight seems to be making the biggest splash.


Highlight is a social, location-based app that allows users to log in through Facebook and locate friends with similar interests who are nearby. The app recommends who you should contact based on mutual interests, mutual friends, and a slew of other Facebook content. As of late, the app is only available for iPhone users and has received some criticism for draining battery life.

Web Services

According to a PCWorld article, a technology known as Correlate is slated to change the game of customer service by making sense of e-mails coming from consumers. The service first syncs with your e-mail inbox and uses labels and flags to categorize what's coming in based on the content and sender. Correlate then attempts to derive the sentiment of the e-mail and allows the recipient to easily uncover major themes and company issues that may need addressing.

Though it's hard to predict the future success of Correlate, the service shows great potential for companies that frequently interact with their customers.


And finally, what tech convention wouldn't be complete without an eating contest and brief cameo from a gorging superstar? On Sunday, everyone's favorite world renowned foodie Kobayashi set the world record for eating 13 grilled cheeses in one minute. Grilled cheese is a childhood favorite of mine, but after catching the video below I'm not sure if I'll ever eat one again.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Let's workout today? I'll meet you on Facebook. Meet Self's new online workout game.

Yesterday, Self Magazine announced their new online game named after their annual event, "Self Workout in the Park." Launch date: March 19th.

Players can create avatars and conduct online "workouts" in a virtual league. You keep your avatar in shape with virtual workouts and they actually appear more toned over time. Avatars can also have cool workout gear and challenge their friends (player's friends). Additional perks are available for those who log their real life workouts.

Game sponsors include: BlackBerry, 7 for All Mankind jeans and Skype. According to the NYT, Self is spending around mid six figures to develop and market the game. A mobile version of the game will go live in April before the real-world events in May and June.

Ms. Steinberg, EVP and Director for publishing investment at MediaVest USA, tells NYT, the Self game is "a hybrid of branded entertainment and traditional event marketing,” and as such, “the way it positions brands is positive and seamless.” Branded entertainment is the integration of products into the plots of movies and television shows; as the Self game shows, brands are also being embedded into video games and online games."

Self VP and Publisher, Laura McEwen, adds "“Looking at an avatar can impact your real-world behavior,” and in the game “if you don’t come back for a period of time, your avatar loses tone.”

I'm not sure I agree with Laura, but I'm very curious to see how the game will perform and just how many users will log on to their Facebook to workout with their friends. In the meantime, I'm happy texting the girls at 6am to meet me for a nice, real-life spinning class at the gym.

For full article:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dick's Sporting Goods: Anthem?

When you think of Dick's Sporting Goods, what do you think of? I think of co-op advertisements and a place where I can find all the equipment I need to play my favorite sport. 

But Dick's Sporting Goods (DSG) is going beyond just their co-op advertising and out to make a statement about the brand. How are they doing this?

Last Thursday, DSG launched their 90-second anthem "Untouchable." The spot taps into the emotion around the sports their consumers play and the equipment they use and wear. We see athletes prepping, warming up and in action. The copy reads "When mind, body and equipment come together, you are untouchable...Every inch, every hurdle, every comeback, every finish, every championship, every season starts at Dick's."

Chief Marketing Officer, Lauren Hobart, commented to Ad Age "This was never about a repositioning of the brand, it's very strong, and consumers feel passion for it. It's about really being crystal-clear about what we wanted to stand for." As mentioned in the article, Ms. Hobart and her team went shopping with more han 100 consumers, talked to athletes and interviewed Dick's employees, to find that there was an opportunity to make a stronger emotional connection.

Anomaly, which is their first agency relationship has been handling their creative work. The plan is for DSG to share the work with brand partners and align their co-op ads so they represent the brand appropriately.

Both :90 sec and :60 sec versions will run on channels such as ESPN, NBC Sports, CBS, TNT and NHL Network. The campaign also inclues print, radio, digital and social media.

See the spot here:

Soundtrack to the spot is the theme song from the movie Rudy which follows an athlete's desire and determination to fulfill his dream of playing college football.

See the full Ad Age article here:

Check out the post on their Facebook page today:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Red Bull is at it again

Welcome to the World of Red Bull.

Red Bull ran a homepage takeover on last Thursday promoting their latest contest and featuring their new brand video. The campaign is supporting new contest, "Launchpad" which is also the name of the supporting micro site where: "Ideas take flight."

The micro site is intended for users to upload their "big, cool, never-seen-before idea" in a video for the public to vote on. Currently on the site, the example video of a "big idea" involves turning Lombard Street in San Francisco into a world class ski run.

The contest ends June 1st and 10 finalists will be chosen at the end of June to proceed to Phase II. From June to August, finalists will be paired with a Red Bull athlete to prepare a presentation based on their idea. First prize wins $5,000 and the opportunity to have their idea come to life.

See the work below:


Soundtrack to the spot is M83 "Outro"

Also on the micro site is "Explore the World of Red Bull" which is rich with content on the athletes they sponsor. They are filmed like documentaries or snapshots of the action and spirit around their feats. Interesting and fun to watch. Couple of examples below:



Base Jumping:


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Athleta "Power to the She"

While some brands like Lululemon inspire you to take a deep breath and zen, Athleta is aiming to get you moving. But how different are they?

Athleta's director of advertising, Sheila Sheka, said to Ad Week ""A lot of brands speak to women about attaining physical beauty or physical prowess. We felt like there was this beautiful space in between, where we could speak to her about being both feminine and powerful."

Although Athleta has been concentrated in catalogs, they have brought on ad agency Peterson Milla Hooks to create the positioning for the brand and advise on the look and feel. Athleta's ads however are being created in-house. The latest: a print campaign with their manifesto.

PMH created "Power to the She" which combines "power" or performance with "she" femininity that you'll see in the creative.

Ad Week quotes "To them, craziness is happiness," said Vincent. "On top of family and friends and social life, they're totally gaga about working out—and going outside and doing it." A manifesto felt like the right way to pay tribute to them.

The ads are running in Real Simple, In Style and Sports Illustrated to name a few. Athleta is also sponsoring the Iron Girl, national all-female, race series and partnering with Girls on the Run nonprofit. They are also running (no pun intended) Pandora advertising where you can create your own "Power to the She" workout station.

Take a look at the creative below (click to expand):

YouTube Video:

Full Ad Week story here:

Looks like we have more to look forward to from Athleta!