Brand backlash/fatigue

What a difference a decade makes.

What a difference a decade makes.

These days, big brands sometimes struggle to gain credibility among a generation of shoppers who aren’t so easily lured by big-budget ad campaigns. Gone are the simpler times when the mere flash of a swoosh or golden arches was enough to generate sales.

‘There’s a tremendous surge in smaller, underground brands,’ says Micki Rivers, marketing manager for Toronto-based Reebok. ‘[The younger demographic] is very brand aware – almost anti-brand in some cases. They want to discover [brands] themselves.’

So what’s a poor multinational to do? Well, seems they’re still trying to figure that out. Just recently Reebok ran a promotion using text messages and microsites to re-launch atr, a line of basketball shoes. Kids had the chance to fly to L.A. to meet basketball guru John ‘Sonny’ Vaccaro, best known for hooking up Michael Jordan with Nike. Oozing credibility, right? Apparently not. The lukewarm response had Reebok questioning whether they used the text messaging medium too early and wondering if the offer actually resonated with kids in the first place.

Rivers says that today, having smart, streamlined strategies that actually connect with kids is the only way to attract their interest. ‘[We] don’t have the privilege to bombard them. I think that’s what’s turning them off. No one is talking to them about pertinent stuff that really interests them.’


Make authenticity your mantra. It’s something Reebok tapped into by designing the Ice Cream line of shoe with producer/performer/trendsetter Pharrell Williams. Reebok made 3,000 shoes. Total. (With nary a pair in these parts.) ‘We weren’t greedy,’ says Rivers. ‘[The shoe] only went to true trend accounts. And instead of making a whole lot of profit and getting a hit upfront and then have it go dead, we behaved; so it’s not about the bottom line it’s about the longevity of the brand.’