The new headquarters in Seaport takes on the challenge of revitalizing Reebok into a brand that can be what Reebok was in the 80s when the brand pushed Nike to the edge and the Swoosh had to layoff a ton of workers while contemplating bankruptcy. The story of Nike defections which led to Reebok hitting on the fitness craze of aerobics in the 80s is one that most people are very aware of, but that was 40 years ago and instead of Reebok maintaining the brand grew to be so disconnected they were bought by adidas. In the time that the 80s fitness craze slowed to the time that the Three Stripes has owned the company, it has gone through several facelifts.
There was the Crossfit endorsement phase which led to its own issues as many people within the community felt forced to wear the brand and they weren’t happy about it. This didn’t work so well.
There is the current phase of utilizing influencers in the arts and music, which feels like an adidas thing and although Reebok once rode Allen Iverson and Hip-Hop to some success in the late 90s early 00s, that was a movement based on hype and when they made too many pairs of S.Dots and G-Units, the movement crashed and burned.
There was even the NBA endorsement moments like Dee Brown wearing the Pump to win a dunk championship… this one is a stretch isn’t it? That’s the problem… Reebok doesn’t have an identity. It was once the brand of women wearing leotards and then it became a basketball brand, and then it wanted to be the face of Crossfit, but it never seemed to do these things seamlessly at the same time. I actually thought adidas would sell the brand a few years back, but they have invested heavily in Reebok in the last two years. Which makes sense considering adidas is ramping up its presence in North America. This takes us back to the new facility in Seaport in the heart of the sneaker world of the east coast.
The new facility appears to have a lot in common with the latest concept behind the changes at Zappos. In the article below I discuss the Holocracy philosophy where companies have a more open, more startup based form of management and workflow.
Reebok’s CEO Matt O’Toole explains the design of the new facility as an attempt at speeding up the work process.
Instead of individual offices, each employee is assigned a locker for their belongings. They sit in work areas according to their departments, called neighborhoods. O’Toole doesn’t even have an office.
“O’Toole says Reebok is looking to reclaim its 100 percent focus on fitness.” The workplace as a motivational tool is not a new concept, but the implementation of ideas into the design of a workspace is new for Reebok and speaks towards the brand looking at reclaiming its 100 percent focus on fitness. This focus seems to undercut the latest marketing plan for the Always Classic campaign.
However, when I see a company change its philosophy I tend to think that they are making the right moves. If Reebok’s version of Holocracy takes foot the company may see its first opportunity to seamlessly integrate lifestyle and fitness for the first time in its history. Reebok won’t have to be either/or it will be all things and that’s possible when the employees are taking an athletic lifestyle into every aspect of their employment and artistic endeavors.
This interactive set-up, with long tables and couches for employees to work at, as well as 100 meeting rooms, has inspired the employees to be connected to every step of the production process. Reebok encourages its 750 employees to utilize the in-house gym space, which is fully equipped with spin, yoga, dance studios, a boxing ring, and a Crossfit box to be better connected to those activities and their products. Plus, each visit employees make to the gym is a credit back to their $75-per-month gym membership.