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