The adage of sex sells is resurfacing in the fitness arena since ‘active wear’ has surged in popularity, pushing fashion and fitness even closer together. At least, that’s the view of Sophie Williams, head of retail at sports brand PUMA.
“Sports marketing has now become both aligned with performance but also lifestyle,” she told B&T. The mix of using athletes like Olympic hurdler Michelle Jenneke or speedster Usain Bolt with style icons such as American singer Rihanna and social media starlet Kylie Jenner helps bring the sex appeal back to fitness fashion, she said. “It now has a sexy factor to sports marketing.
“Activewear has become the new trend, it’s runway to gym thinking,” she added. PUMA has just launched a flagship store in Melbourne with an array of fancy new clothing to sweat into, with limited edition footwear in collaboration with Rihanna. The Sydney store is due to launch in August.
Still, not everyone is thrilled with the Activewear trend sweeping pop culture now – to the point where one parody YouTube group mocked the trend in an online video that’s racked up more than four million views.
Mashable Australia also described it as a “ghastly epidemic”, with the main paint point being women are wearing this stuff without actually doing any exercise.
From a marketing perspective of the trend though, Williams said it’s going to be a tricky to remain relevant.
“The greatest challenge is keeping the sports fashion element on trend and alive. It will all come back to ensuring there is versatility and performance elements that continue to look great and meet the customer demand of being on trend,” she said. “Key ambassadors for brands will ensure this trend continues.”
But when it comes to using ambassadors for sporting brands, there’s always going to be risk.
When Maria Sharapova revealed she tested positive in a drugs test during the Australian Open this year, many of her sporting sponsors were keen to drop her, including massive company Nike.
It sparked a heated debate on whether sporting brands should stand by their ambassadors – and to what extent.
For Williams though, brands need to choose ambassadors that embody the company’s values – which she says is what they’ve done with Usain Bolt. And the introduction of Rihanna brings the brand the “fun and edge factor” to PUMA.
If the nuances and challenges of sports marketing has you chomping at the bit to future-proof your company, you should haul arse to the Ministry of Sports Marketing conference held in Sydney at the Randwick Racecourse on July 19.