Power further, together – Launching a trail running shoe during a pandemic – Case Study 2021

Shortlisted 2021

Luxury & Lifestyle

Brand

The North Face

Entered by:

PHD Global Business

CREDITS:

Bigger., Mongoose, 1000heads, Runner's World, 4running, Trails, Aktiv Laufen!, TrailRun, Like the Wind, Strava

Power further, together - Launching a trail running shoe during a pandemic

The Challenge

The North Face was born out of a passion to help people explore the world. Then the pandemic happened. To successfully launch the Vectiv trail running shoe for The North Face in early spring 2021, we needed to build legitimacy amongst trail runners; but do so with our stores out of bounds and the world in various states of lockdown; and in a way that was socially responsible, but commercially successful. As the Vectiv is designed to physically push those serious about running a little further with every stride, we needed to find ways to connect with those serious enough to see the value in trading up to shoes retailing at 2X the price of trail shoes offered by some of the most popular running shoe brands.

The Creative Solution

The perfect place to find these running obsessives was on Strava, the world’s leading community of runners and riders. Research showed runners were 172% more active during the pandemic, 1.5x more likely to notice OOH, and 53% were focused on learning new skills. Through The Power Further, Together challenge, any member that ran, hiked, wheeled or scrambled their way across 100km of terrain in March would be rewarded with a coveted profile badge and the chance to win a pair of Vectivs. To lift this enthusiasm out of the app and into real life, we mined the Strava API to find the most popular running routes in our 5 target cities. These were set as “challenges” in Strava and also used to determine where our OOH should be placed. Furthermore, we knew our Progressive Explorer were avid readers of running magazines, making partnerships with these 3 of 4 publications a priority. It also gave us the opportunity to showcase the depth of research that went into product development via advertorials, not possible in other channels.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

We created an integrated media plan including promotions within Strava; digital placements, full page ads and advertorials in Runner’s World, Trails, Aktiv Laufen!, TrailRun, 4running, and Like the Wind; OOH including two painted wall murals and posters on key LON routes; DOOH with dynamic route times piped in to further stimulate competition; and of course video and display via Teads, YouTube, InSkin, Twitter, and Facebook. Critical to our success was the use of endemic print, which helped The North Face establish credibility with serious trail runners that haven’t had a product suitable to their needs from TNF in recent history. Our Runner’s World partnership extended across all 5 markets while the other pubs were per market. The advertorials detailed the athlete-testing and research that went into the product, giving our target a real reason to believe. In addition to our endemic placements, our programmatic inclusion list prioritised quality journalistic outlets including Sky Sports, Marca, Eurosport, and Le Monde du Camping-Car.

The Result

In total, over 500K runners took on the challenge in Europe, running more than 35 million miles in total. This is more miles than all the participants of the Big 5 marathons (New York, London, Paris, Chicago, and Berlin) have run, across the past five years combined – or further than Mars…admittedly at its closest point! To our knowledge, this makes our challenge the largest co-branded running event of all time. Overall, our endemic partnerships delivered reach of 4.3M, 33% above plan; the other channels delivered 249M impressions, 50% above plan. Critically, we drove immediate brand and business growth following our activation: • Unaided brand awareness lift of 4.1pts • +344% Net Sales Growth in Running Shoes / Apparel • +86% Increase in Share of Market in Running Shoes / Appare • +468% Sales in Womens Running Shoes / Apparel Our results overwhelmingly show that despite (or perhaps because of) the pandemic-imposed restrictions, we were able to effectively demonstrate to our hardcore trail running audience the difference The North Face’s Vectiv shoe could make in their performance.