Russell Athletic positions as lifestyle brand

Russell Athletic, the American sportswear brand, is repositioning itself as a lifestyle label in a bid to increase its appeal to younger customers.

The label has had limited distribution in the UK for the past three years but is set to reveal a new brand strategy that will focus on its spring/summer 2010 vintage style UK collection.

Russell Athletic intends to distance itself from its sports brand heritage in favour of joining the ranks of youth lifestyle and jeans brands, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Superdry.

Its marketing strategy includes aligning the brand with “music as a culture” through celebrity tie-ups and music events. Russell Athletic is in talks with record labels to secure a deal with an up and coming music star to be the face of the brand.

There will be an advertising campaign fronted by the music star and targeting consumer lifestyle magazines in early 2010.

Marc Travis, marketing director of Russell Athletic, says: “Celebrity is a huge opportunity for us to speed up the awareness drive.”

He adds that online and social media will be a big part of the brand’s marketing strategy. It has already launched an Eighties-themed viral campaign to build awareness of the brand in the UK.

The brand is also negotiating new retail distribution deals, which could see Russell Athletic opening concessions in UK department stores and an exclusive partnership with an online retailer.

The Russell Athletic distribution licence for the UK is held by Mint Apparel, a trading company of the Integrix Sports Group, which also owns the Fila sportswear brand.

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