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Falling in love with running all over again with ASICS's Run to Feel

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Back when this lockdown mess started, several countries all over the world tackled restrictions in different ways. One of the unexpected results of social distancing is that people started taking real advantage of their 'allocated' exercise hour, especially here in the UK. In other words, people have rediscovered the pleasure of running.

As a brand operating in dozens of countries all over the world, it was just natural for ASICS to find ways to support this new wave of runners. The #RunToFeel campaign was conceived to help us all cultivate and maintain our newfound love for running, with a series of initiatives aimed at keeping runners connected, wherever they may be.

For this Behind the Idea, we've heard from Fiona Berwick, the strategic planner of global marketing at ASICS, to understand what brought such an inspring campaign to life.

What was the brief? 

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has generated unprecedented upheaval and triggered far-ranging impacts on the global landscape and how businesses operate. ASICS is no different, the pandemic has impacted our way of business, employees, and consumers. So, the brief for this campaign was to better understand the changing needs of runners during lockdown.

To do this, we conducted a live study of thousands of regular exercisers across the world so that we can better support runners through our products, services, content and events. We want to make it easy for everyone to experience the mental and physical benefits of movement. To keep running – both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go? 

Since the spread of COVID-19, we’ve seen brands around the world activating in so many positive and impactful ways, but before ASICS joined the conversation, we first set out to better understand the changing needs of runners during this unprecedented time. To do this, we decided to conduct a live study of 14,000 regular exercisers across 12 markets. 

The campaign also had to align closely to the ideals that ASICS’ was founded on - to lift the spirits of the world through movement by  achieving a ‘sound mind in a sound body’ (translated into Latin, Anima Sana ICorpore Sano – the acronym that ASICS stands for). Something that has never been more important to people than it is now. 

As a global brand that operates in 33 countries around the world, we wanted to make a real impact by using the research findings to inform ASICS products, services, content and events, and by aligning all of the activity under one campaign and CTA - #RunToFeel. Through the campaign, ASICS aims to help the world’s runners connect, stay active and keep on experiencing the uplifting power of running in a world of social isolation.

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Tell us more about the concept. Why was it the right choice? 

We are currently going through a time of extraordinary change, and some of our toughest challenges will come after lockdown is lifted. So, to help combat our ever-changing environment, we will use learnings from the ongoing study on a continuous basis to release additional resources, product innovations and inspiration that support new needs of runners. 

From virtual races that motivate runners, to free access to challenges in the ASICS Runkeeper™ app, and additional training content and guidance from ASICS FrontRunners and athletes, we’re helping people enjoy the mental and physical benefits of running during the pandemic and beyond

What was the production process like? How long did it take, and what was the biggest challenge?

The campaign was developed within two months to ensure the message landed in a timely manner and insights around consumers lockdown experiences rang true. Despite working from home, we were able to conduct global research, develop campaign assets and pivot to a fully digital launch across all ASICS markets over the coming weeks.

For some of our digital assets, we invited members of the running community to share user-generated content, that signified what running has meant to them through this time of restriction. We were delighted that the response was so enthusiastic – our campaign film as an example, features content from a diverse mixture of FrontRunners and friends of ASICS from across the globe.  

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What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter? 

The main campaign message is that amidst the isolation of lockdown, the world has fallen in love with running. ASICS is on a mission to support and inspire people to experience the mental and physical benefits of running – both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

To do this, we will continue to listen to runners, through an ongoing survey that will provide real-time insights and trends from the running community globally. Using these findings, alongside regulations relaxing in different countries, we’re looking to develop solutions and innovations to help exercisers either continue or get back into running in order to keep experiencing the uplifting power of running.  

Why will the final assets resonate with consumers? 

The campaign brings together our products, services, content and events to make it easy for everyone to experience the mental and physical benefits of movement. The goal is to help the running community keep running – both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

To do this, we will continue to listen to runners through our ongoing survey. We are also supporting and inspiring runners to keep experiencing the uplifting power of running by:

  • Celebrating running in people lives by calling on them to share their stories of how it has helped them via #RunToFeel.
  • Offering free access to the ASICS Studio™ at-home workout app for everyone from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through the end of summer (August 2020).
  • Hosting virtual races powered by Race Roster and Runkeeper™ to motivate runners and let them compete together safely.
  • Allowing free access to the #RunToFeel Challenge in the ASICS Runkeeper™ app – with new challenges being added each month.
  • Allowing free access for 90 days to training plans and all premium features of the ASICS Runkeeper™ app as a benefit of OneASICS membership.
  • Providing additional training content and guidance from ASICS FrontRunner community and athletes.
  • Continuing to listen to, and understand changing needs of runners of all levels, through ongoing research, to better inform upcoming ASICS innovations, digital events and initiatives.

What is one unique fact about the campaign that will help it cut through? 

This campaign is unique due to its reactionary and nimble positioning. Over the last few months, society has had to constantly adapt to new situations. At ASICS we’ve taken this challenge on to be ready to react to the situation and help provide everyday athletes with the tools they need to thrive in the ‘new normal’.

The reason this campaign can help solve problems for this group is because of the depth and extensiveness of the global research. The data is constantly providing us with deeper knowledge of the freedom that running has provided people during social isolation, as well as a better understanding of the changing needs of runners.

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What do you hope it achieves for the brand? 

The aim is to help the world’s runners connect, stay active and keep on experiencing the uplifting power of running through a series of new initiatives – both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. ASICS was founded on the belief that movement can help anyone achieve a sound mind through a sound body. This is something that’s never been more important to people than it is now, so we wanted to better understand and support the changing needs of runners in a world of social isolation.

Ultimately, we hope our founding philosophy, of helping the world achieve a ‘sound mind in a sound body’ through movement, can support runners today in the same way as when ASICS was founded

How satisfying is it to see it out there after so much hard work?

We are pleased we were able to develop We Run To Feel so quickly, using real-time insights to inform our initiative and programmes. Our aim is to continue to roll-out this campaign throughout the year.

The focus is to help increase access to and participation in running for people around  the world, and provide a renewed support to those who have stopped – helping them restart their routine that helped provide them with mental and physical health benefits.


Fiona Berwick is the strategic planner of global marketing at ASICS
 

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