STORMING REEBOK: Nearly a year into her role as Reebok’s lead marketing executive, Melanie Boulden is unveiling her first advertising effort with today’s release of “Sport the Unexpected.”
The first of what will be three short films due out this year is “Storm the Court,” which opens with an intentionally peculiar girl in a pleated skirt interrupting an outdoor basketball game in the heat of competition. Faintly sci-fi, the intrusion starts a little trancelike dancing and is meant to draw attention to Aztrek Double. Aside from the perspiring players whose reactions quickly turn from confused to bemused, the spot is a sports-free zone. To try to appeal to “the Marvel generation,” which is inclined to watch the credits for one last scene, the Reebok spot has taken a similar track.
“If you want to change brand perception, you need a jolt and that’s what this first one is. I say that because some people have seen this and have said, ‘Oh my God, what have you done?’ So it’s a jolt. It’s something to get people to focus and take a look at,” she said. “The second one is definitely entertaining, definitely in the same vein, but with a little different tempo, and a different little vibe,” referring to the yet-to-be-released “Back Where We Started,” which centers on a chaotic Nineties-inspired house party. Instead of centering on heroes, as is routine with some athletic brands, Boulden said, “This is about wanting you to sport the unexpected, and we’re hoping that attitude permeates with your friends, your community.”
Hired last April as Reebok’s vice president of marketing, Boulden most recently worked at Crayola. At Reebok, her title recently changed to global head of marketing and brand management. During a preview of what she described as the brand’s “first fully integrated campaign” that will encompass lifestyle and performance, Boulden noted that consumers don’t look at the brand in two separate areas. “They don’t delineate brands like that. We are working on integrating. In 2019, we’ll do it in a much stronger way. In 2020, we want the brand to have one brand voice, one brand vision, one brand,” she said.
Social, digital, static, out-of-home – Reebok’s new efforts are trying to cover all the bases. While this year’s creative is being handled by Venables Bell + Partners, Reebok has tapped IPG Deutsch to take over as its global creative agency next year. “Between the two, we have agreed — and this transition has been seamless — we are not going to re-create the wheel. Sometimes you get new agencies and it’s about re-creating and starting from scratch. The work that we’ve done with Venables is strong and we’re going to continue to build off of the platform, especially around this unexpected territory. We think it’s a really rich, fertile area for us,” she said.
Noting Reebok is starting to have a strong global footprint due partially to interest in Russia, Europe, China and Dubai, Boulden said, “We have partnered with Deutsch so they will help us evolve on an international scale.” A Deutsch spokeswoman declined comment Friday.
Having shelled out top dollars for Victoria Beckham and brand ambassadors like Cardi B, Reebok plans to maximize those affiliations. “We have these amazing talents that we’re doing so much more with them than just putting them in a window or helping to amplify in-store stories. They are open to doing really cool stuff with us,” Boulden said, showing a Reebok-made video clip of the rapper taking a Nineties trivia quiz to prove her point.