The Japanese sportswear maker is increasing its pan-European media spend by 20 per cent year-on-year to support the cross-category charge that will see it focus on promoting its apparel range. Asics, which is known for its running footwear, says there is a “huge opportunity to translate the equity it has built up around marathon training to other sports, particularly those niche to certain markets.
Multi-channel promotions will pitch the brand’s “Muscle Support” collection – designed to improve the running posture of the wearer – ahead of other ranges being introduced later in the year. Activity will market how the range enhances the performance in tennis and rugby with the brand preparing its first non-running TV campaign in Europe for the former later this year.
Asics, which is the number three tennis footwear manufacturer behind Nike and Adidas according to consumer insights specialist NPD Group, will use its recently announced tie-ups with Wimbledon doubles champion Jonny Marray and Canadian top 40 player Vasek Pospislil to strengthen its ties to the sport alongside its sponsorship of the World Tennis Classic tournament. It is also planning a campaign featuring both the Australian and South African national rugby union teams in the build up to next year’s World Cup.
Max Keen, marketing manager for Asics Europe, says it wants apparel to become the brand’s biggest business after running. Asics’ popularity among runners has come under threat over the last two years as Nike and Adidas throw more marketing muscle behind the fast-growing category.
Keen adds: “Our strategy is about being number one in running. That won’t change but there’s a natural affinity to running and other sports. Three out of four people who buy Asics [products] use it for sport. That’s almost double the rate of the market, which is more like four out of 10 because people use them for leisure also.”
The strategy builds on last year’s “Journey of Improvement” campaign, which Asics claims was its most successful to date based on brand metrics such as awareness and sentiment.