Just when I felt that Under Armour was moving in the right direction via content creation I remember that I have been saying for the longest time that brands, like small business people, have to control their narrative. They have to understand the market and create with the consumer in mind, but they have to own the creation of their content or that content can be disrupted by the very people they align themselves with. I discussed this when I wrote a post on Puma last year (Puma has since parted ways with Meek… Meek’s in jail btw):
In the post above, I included a picture of Young Thug who was an endorser for Puma, but is now a part of the Crazy campaign for adidas. I continue to look at the merry go round of entertainment endorsers for brands and while there is some consistency, it amazes me that brands aren’t paying attention to this and understanding how important it is to control the narrative. Nike may be the only brand that gets this. While adidas has been my marketing darling of the year, this recent campaign for adidas Crazy just feels wrong to me on so many levels that if I’m in marketing at the Three Stripes I would be pulling my hair out because I just happen to think someone there thinks that kids are stupid and that they don’t pay attention, when this might be the most informed generation ever. They may have their heads in their phones, but they can read fake shit from a mile away.
I understand that popularity and stars create a connection to fans. I also know that popularity is generated in different arenas now. A girl on IG can garner more likes than a movie star. An ex college athlete who didn’t play professional ball can gain just as many followers as an NBA all-star. There are opportunities now in media unlike any time in history. This has muddled the waters for advertising as brands are looking to reach consumers and unfortunately they are often doing so to the detriment of their brand cache.
I discussed this again when I saw what Kendrick did to Reebok. Million/billion dollar brands are placing a ridiculous amount of trust in influencer marketing at the expense of utilizing the tools in their own garage.
A person has every right to earn as much money as possible. Brand loyalty is not of concern for the individual and that is the way it should be. Why would I wear one brand if every brand is willing to pay me?
The problem is consumers pay attention and if they are being influenced by influencers then the last image they see becomes the most relevant. In this instance brands who decide to enlist influencers who are not loyal paid endorsers, run the risk of creating an aura of not being authentic; which could be overlooked if people aren’t paying attention. This brings me back to Under Armour and adidas. When I started this post I wrote that I was excited for Under Armour after seeing the recent YouTube show Shoot Your Shot:
I thought that Under Armour had found a lane and they were making an attempt at branding and keeping young talent like BDot and Famous Los in the family. I had no idea that Under Armour and adidas would use the same marketing tool at the same time. I didn’t realize that adidas was foolish enough to continue making mistakes. What has been an impressive year for adidas in marketing is now turning into a lot of sloppy misses for the brand. It’s like adidas has allowed their growth this year to make them lazy because this commercial below ties Under Armour and adidas together in the span of two weeks by signing and launching campaigns featuring Famous Los.
— Famouslos32 (@famouslos32) December 17, 2017
Now, Famous Los isn’t at fault here. In the words of the immortal Ashy Larry from Chappelle’s Show, “Get paid Son!” Famous Los has every right to cash in on the lazy approach to content creation and marketing being done by brands unwilling to utilize their own platforms and athletes to reach the consumer. Yes, YouTube and IG stars have an incredible reach, but like the content created by YT and IG stars once they finish a project it’s forgotten before the next funny/interesting video comes up again. It’s a very precarious position for brands looking to find a way to remain relevant and on trend. The problem is the consumer isn’t easily swayed by just seeing or hearing a “star” I discussed this in regard to the Originators from Saucony.
What tends to happen often with influencers is that they eventually get caught rocking another brand. When they are caught rocking that “other” brand that brand becomes synonymous with the influencer and the consumer sees that brand as more authentic. This happened with the Saucony drop. Less than 48 hours after the first and second Originators packs dropped, the influencers had already reverted back to promoting “on foot” and reviews of Nike and Jordan Brand footwear. The resale price of the Saucony pack dropped and what I found more damaging the Originators did not increase sale through of other models on the site.
The same thing happened with the Gary Vee and K-Swiss deal. The Icon Knit could have been K-Swiss’ move back to respectability in the sneaker community. What it has turned into is a celebration of Gary Vee. The sneaker company is secondary and that does nothing at all to promote and build brand loyalty.
Brands have in their toolbox every item needed to repair a very broken marketing environment. Will they use the tools? Probably not. We are at a point now where a temporary bump is sufficient enough to make CEO’s happy. Unfortunately the sneaker market is crumbling and while most people look at the promotional environment and uninspired design… I see it as the failure to create moments captured in consistent and dedicated marketing campaigns. As long as brands are satisfied with hashtag success, they will get hashtag results that don’t sustain. Influencer marketing has to have rules and loyalty… The brands that realize this will win for more than just the moment.