K-Swiss, traditionally known as a casual sneaker, is doubling its digital spend this year for efforts that take aim at marathon runners and triathletes. This comes on the heels of a more print-leaning approach in 2011 that saw year over year sales increase 40 percent.
So why mess with a 40 percent lift? Jeff Smaul, president and creative director at Mile 9, K-Swiss’ agency for the last 13 months, said the brand had to invest more in online, where hardcore runners increasingly do their product research.
“They read the pubs, but they are online,” he said. “So it was key to us to have both. They are tech savvy. They do their homework and are willing to spend whatever amount of money it is to get the best.”
On Monday, Westlake, CA-based K-Swiss launches an integrated campaign, “We’re Freaks For The Run”. Mirroring print ad placements, the brand is running multimedia display ads on sites like Runners World, FloTrack.com, Iron Man, Lava Magazine, Running Times, and Competitor.com.
Over the next four weeks, the ads will feature video vignettes that highlight the 45-year-old brand’s ambition to expand its identity as a performance sneaker, competing with the likes of Nike, Adidas, and Asics. Four different shoes will be showcased in the :30 videos. Though the shoes and vignettes are designed to appeal to different levels of serious runners, Smaul said, the creative can be described as daring.
“Our whole campaign was based on us hanging out with [triathalon] guys and runners, and we are runners as well,” he said. “People think of us as freaks, but we’re not freaks….And that’s where the whole campaign stems from. We are sure having fun with it. K-Swiss has the ability to do that. We’re not Nike, we’re not Adidas, so we can go out a little bit further than they can.”
Though Mile 9 couldn’t ham-hand the details, Smaul explained. “Our voice is talking to hardcore runners,” he said. “So it has to be very authentic when we talk about running. When we were shooting the vignettes, for instance, we had to make sure their shoelaces were tied the right way. We had to make sure they were running on the correct side of the street. We know that runners are going to call us out.”
TV spots will air later this year as part of the campaign, Smaul said. In addition, he said K-Swiss will have a presence at marathons around the country, while pushing the appearances via its Facebook and Twitter pages.