Fight­ing All Odds

Se­nior mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Sil­via Tal­lon, talks about Ree­bok’s fight to re­claim its past glory.

The Brand Reporter - - ADVERTISING - By Sh­weta Mulki sh­weta.mulki@afaqs.com

Ac­tor Kan­gana Ra­naut has prob­a­bly been the most vis­i­ble ac­tor in the news lately - a fact that works well for fitness brand Ree­bok In­dia, which had ap­pointed her as its brand am­bas­sador last year. In a new cre­ative un­der Ree­bok’s ‘#FitToFight’ cam­paign (con­cep­tu­alised by McCann Worldgroup), Ra­naut is seen mo­ti­vat­ing an eve-teas­ing vic­tim to fight back. This will be fol­lowed by an­other film that ad­dresses in­equal­ity in pay.

Ra­naut’s pub­lic per­sona could be seen as that of an un­der­dog who’s been fight­ing ad­ver­sity and over­com­ing per­sonal chal­lenges while be­com­ing more pop­u­lar in the process. “That fight runs par­al­lel to Ree­bok’s own past,” says Sil­via Tal­lon, who was ap­pointed as its se­nior mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor in In­dia in 2016.

Af­ter a ma­jor in­ter­nal scam in 2012, Ree­bok In­dia saw most of its stores shut down, but it is now in re­cov­ery mode. While its par­ent Adi­das re­cently crossed the `1000 crore in rev­enue, the first sportswear brand in In­dia to do so, Ree­bok showed a 6.5 per cent growth in the last fis­cal. Tal­lon says, “When I came in 18 months ago, the man­date was to el­e­vate the brand and bring it on par with in­ter­na­tional play­ers, where it be­longed ear­lier. To do that, repo­si­tion­ing has been key,” says Tal­lon.

“The brand in In­dia got di­luted ear­lier, as it was multi-po­si­tioned across dif­fer­ent sports dis­ci­ples, but now, we are fo­cused on fitness which is more spe­cialised and niche,” she ex­plains adding that this also helps in dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing the brand from par­ent Adi­das.

ALL ABOUT WOMEN

Be­sides fitness, Ree­bok, which ear­lier had M.S. Dhoni and John Abra­ham among its am­bas­sadors, also has a re­newed fo­cus on women.

With ‘femver­tis­ing’ be­com­ing the go-to mes­sag­ing to woo women con­sumers, isn’t there a risk of be­ing lost in the clut­ter? “Ree­bok has al­ways been a women-first brand. In the ’80s, it was one of the few brands of­fer­ing fitness and women-spe­cific shoes for train­ing,” rea­sons Tal­lon, adding that Ra­naut en­sures vis­i­bil­ity.

Com­ing back to Ra­naut’s ‘brand fit’ - was it easy to go past her ‘fem­i­nine fash­ion icon’ im­age? Tal­lon feels that Kan­gana’s role as a dis­rup­tive celebrity in a male driven so­ci­ety has over­taken her im­age as a fash­ion icon. “Kan­gana is fem­i­nine and she is dis­rup­tive. Women in In­dia need to be more dis­rup­tive. We need to en­cour­age them to be a bet­ter ver­sion of them­selves and they need some­body to chase and push them Kan­gana is that per­son. She may be un­pre­dictable, but doesn’t care about con­ven­tion­al­ism and had to fight a lot in her life. Even at Ree­bok, we had to fight as well and that all in­ter­links very well for us.”

Prior to In­dia, Tal­lon has had stints in Europe and Rus­sia too. What’s her take on Euro­pean agen­cies visa-vis those in In­dia? “In Europe, most agen­cies have a more holis­tic ap­proach in pro­vid­ing a proper fi­nal out­come or so­lu­tion for the project,” she com­ments and adds, “Here, since dif­fer­ent as­pects of the cam­paign, be it cre­ative or pro­duc­tion or plan­ning, are di­vided among var­i­ous agen­cies; I feel some part of the brand essence could get di­luted in a way.”

Also com­ment­ing on dig­i­tal ver­sus main­stream ad spends, Tal­lon is

“Ree­bok has al­ways been a women-first brand. In the ‘80s, it was one of the few brands of­fer­ing fitness and wom­en­spe­cific shoes for train­ing.” SIL­VIA TAL­LON

amazed by how rapidly dig­i­tal is grow­ing in In­dia. “There is a ten­dency glob­ally, to be­lieve that In­dia and other emerg­ing mar­kets are not so good with dig­i­tal and new tech­nol­ogy, but that’s so un­true. When you ar­rive you re­alise emerg­ing economies need more dig­i­tal to reach out to a big­ger au­di­ence - I had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence in Rus­sia too. All brands that have a pres­ence in In­dia need to catch up quick,” she adds. ■

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