Fila USA – Remain Vintage, but Never Conventional.

Remain Vintage, but Never Conventional.

 That is the unwavering mission statement that forms the very core of Fila’s brand identity. Yet despite remaining true to this brand promise, Fila’s unique brand identifier of staying true to heritage while pursuing creative innovation had become drowned in the sea of aggressive branding and marketing campaigns by its competitors.

Our team believes that Fila has great potential to make a comeback. Recent fashion trends indicate that millennials are riding a wave of nostalgia-inspired fashions style. Our social media strategy report will analyse the current shortcomings with Fila’s existing brand strategy and introduce a strategic social media strategy to once again restore Fila to its former glory.

Social Media Audit

We conducted an audit of Fila’s three main social media assets (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and crystallised the following insights. Please note that all data is based on the period of 17 Jun 2016 – 14 Sep 2016.

Facebook Audit

Fila’s Facebook following is low for a company for its size. There are only 17,000 likes, which pale significantly to Nike’s 27 million, Adidas’s 24.7 million and New Balance’s 1.5 million.
Content

Fila’s content is unengaging and conventional. Most posts feature updates of its products, some with extensive write-ups. Typically, likes and shares do not go above double digits and there is practically no two-way conversation between the brand and consumers. Other types of content feature tennis-related news (as Fila supports American tennis professionals). There is also a lack of alignment with Fila’s new pivot towards heritage or nostalgia-themed apparel and identity.

 

There is one interesting observation. According to data obtained from Socialbakers, while Nike, Adidas and New Balance clearly dwarfed Fila in terms of sheer absolute numbers, Fila had the highest relative engagement numbers. What this means is that in terms of percentage, Fila had the highest portion of engaged followers, indicating that a loyal community does exist.

Twitter

Overall, Fila is highly active in Twitter in terms of posting activity, averaging about two posts a week. As on its Facebook, Fila has few followers (standing at 12,200) and almost no engagement with its followers. Once again, there is a lack of alignment with Fila’s new pivot towards heritage or nostalgia-themed apparel and identity.

Content

It appears that Fila does not understand the proper use of Twitter. Most of its posts are re-tweets, with almost no original tweets of its own. Fila also does not respond to tweets from its community. Fila neither leverages Twitter’s platform as the shortform news update site that it has become nor users it to engage in conversation with its community. Another significant problem is that Fila does not use Fila-related hashtags at all.

Instagram

Fila’s Instagram is the best-performing out of the three in terms of numbers, with about 123,000 followers. However, when put into context relative to its key competitors, it also lags significantly behind. Nike has 65.4 million followers, Adidas has 15.3 million followers and New Balance has 1.7 million followers.

Content

Like its Facebook and Twitter pages, Fila is relatively active on Instagram, averaging at about 2 posts weekly. Unfortunately, the problems outlined in its Facebook and Twitter pages persist here. There is a lack of engagement with its followers, and also insufficient alignment with Fila’s new pivot towards heritage or nostalgia-themed apparel and identity. Instagram does perform slightly better than the others in terms of being on-theme; the post with famed deceased 90s rapper Tupac wearing Fila clothes was by far the most liked post of all.

Target Audience

Who we’re going to target

We will be targeting fashion-conscious millennials. Academic theories which will be applied in identifying and justifying our choice includes social network theory, diffusion of innovation and stakeholder mapping theory.

Why Millennials

Millennials are fashion-forward, early adoption consumers, and will have increasing disposable income. This is a demographic group Fila, as a sportswear consumer brand, must capture to become visible and relevant again.

How we’re going to reach them

Fila needs to be where millennials are: on social media. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. The brand has some online presence, but it has a long way to go in curating content and building a community.

Problem Identification and Research Question

Dipstick Survey

The American press has been portraying Fila in a relatively positively light. Their renewed focus on heritage fashion and vintage designs were both on-brand and positively received by fashion magazines. On the surface, it appears that Fila had begun a successful turnaround for its flagging brand.

However, it may be misleading to assume that preliminary message alignment between media and Fila meant that the message had translated to millennials. We decided to ascertain if there was a perception gap between the millennials and Fila’s message strategy using a dipstick survey.

We sent the informal dipstick survey to 20 friends in the USA. The questions were as follows:

  1. Name the top three brands that come to mind when you think about sportswear.
  2. What do you think Fila’s brand stands for?
  3. What do you associate with Fila’s sportswear?

Unfortunately, it appeared that Fila’s message had yet to reach its target audience. None of the responses indicated Fila as one of the top three brands that come to mind when asked about sportswear, and all gave mixed answers about what they thought Fila’s brand stood for. When pressed to associate Fila’s sportwear with something, the answers were also mixed and unfavourable. 

What this reveals is a clear brand perception gap. Fila needed to more proactively and aggressively craft brand messages in a targeted manner.

Part of the problem is clear – as revealed in the social media audit, Fila was sorely lacking in the social media space. Crucially, it also revealed that Millennials did not view Fila as culturally relevant, and were unclear as to what Fila stood for at all.

Research Question

This led us to our research question: How can Fila leverage nostalgia-marketing and social media to drive a rebranding strategy?

 

Communications Objectives

To establish a distinct Fila brand identity that resonates with millennials, a robust social media strategy is vital. To that end, we identified two specific communications objectives that we will be crafting our targeted tactics for. We developed an integrated communications strategy to ensure that the tactics are aligned with the communications objectives, which in turn are aligned with our strategic direction.

The communications objectives are as follows:

  • To increase engagement on social media platforms
  • To boost Fila’s relatability and cultural relevance factor among millennials

Tactics

Tactic 1 | Creating an Active Brand Community

How it works

We will be creating a brand-new community page, linked directly from Fila’s main USA webpage. It will look something like the mock-up below.

Clicking on the community tab will bring the user to the official Fila Community page.

Why it works

Our social media audit of Fila’s brand assets revealed two important insights:

  • Fila lacked two-way engagement with its audience, and yet
  • In terms of relative engagement, Fila boasted higher numbers than even Nike, Adidas or New Balance.

This is a clear opportunity to develop Fila’s brand community. As it is, there is a small but ardent following of Fila’s products. What they now need is a space to share and communicate their ideas and enthusiasms with other like-minded individuals. Building a community page will simultaneously feed this demand as well as create a dynamic page where new fans can visit and interact with the Fila community, while keeping in-step with the most updated Fila news.

Tactic 2 | #RemainVintage Instagram Competition

How it works

The next tactic aims to kick-start Fila’s social media revival and funnel traffic to the new community page set up in Tactic 1. In this vein, the #RemainVintage Instagram competition will increase engagement and solidify brand identity within the community while increasing conversation of the brand on social media platforms.

 

The campaign involves community members posting a side-by-side of a throwback, vintage photo and a similar photo of themselves now. Instagram posts should be captioned with what “vintage” means to the user, describing what the word embodies and what they believe the vintage spirit to be. The purpose of the campaign is to reinforce Fila’s brand identity as “always vintage, never conventional”, and to expose the current relevance and demands of a niche market in which Fila is best fit to provide for.

Why it works

The competition should be kicked off by celebrity influencers who embody the concept of vintage or draw inspiration from a nostalgic time but at the same time remain relevant and well-liked such as Drake, Rihanna, Future, and Tinashe, whose fan base overlaps with that of which Fila hopes to tap into. These influencers will either wear Fila attire or post throwback photos of themselves or their idols in Fila attire.

To incentivize community members to participate in the competition, Fila should announce that winners of the competitor will be given the opportunity to be appointed brand ambassadors and be invited to walk for Fila at the New York Fashion Week. Top posts, measured by the total number of likes garnered by the end of the competition period, will be selected and reviewed by Fila to determine two winners that best embody the Fila “Always vintage, but Never Conventional” message. This is so Fila can convey its intent to be community-inclusive but also gives Fila the power to conduct internal reviews to select its brand ambassadors as it sees fit.

Tactic 3 | Drake as creative director of Fila

Fila would collaborate with Drake’s label October’s Very Own (OVO) to release exclusive series of footwear and apparel that would be available to the public as well as featured in his music videos.

Both Fila and Drake will release teasers on social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram leading up to the official launch with the hashtag #OVOxFILA (Appendix X ) to generate buzz around the brand and solidify the alignment of Fila with Drake’s image.

Why it works

We conducted comprehensive research before selecting Drake as the creative director for Fila. Despite his mainstream success, Drake has a soft spot for the 1990s (Frederick, 2016) which is reflected in his music and in his fashion choices. He is clearly inspired by idols of his youth as evidenced by his sampling of music by MC Hammer, Whitney Houston, Wu-Tang Clan, amongst others in his present-day hits. Through successfully incorporating aspects of old-school, nostalgic elements into modern, relevant music, Drake proves, time and time again, that it is possible to “remain vintage, but never conventional.”

However, despite being labelled a hip-hop artist, Drake also combines his abilities of rapping, singing, song writing, and composing. He constantly challenges the traditional boundaries and critics have even said there is “nothing contemporary” about his artistic choices (Caramanica, 2015). His vulnerability and authenticity exhibited in his music has given him the illusion of relatability to young people.

Drake is a cultural icon that is on-brand for Fila and fulfils the component of “imaginative aspiration” for the Fila community – that is, Drake is someone that the millennial, vintage-inspired Fila community look up to, aspire to be, and will try to emulate. A possible collaboration post can be found below.

G1 [G10] Fila

About Fila

Fila, Inc. is an Italian-South Korean sporting goods company. It was founded in 1911 in Italy, and is one of the world’s largest sportswear manufacturing companies. Its primary competitors are Adidas, Nike, Puma and Reebok.

Our project proposal will be tailored for its U.S. audience.

Why Fila?

Fila came to our team’s attention as a consistently underrated brand of sportswear. Since its heyday in the 1990s, it has fallen out of favor among a key demographic group—the youth—and became relegated to the shadows of Adidas and Nike. A preliminary social media audit also found that Fila has not effectively used social media platforms to connect with consumers.

We realized that recent trends in the fashion industry presented exciting opportunities to revitalize a tired brand. Two trends are particularly salient:

(1) The resurgence of retro-nostalgia among millennials and

(2) the rise of sportswear as class of fashion in its own right.

As a sportswear brand priding itself on heritage-focused designs, the climate is ripe for Fila to regain its relevance among millennials. The key to this is to carve out a distinct identity in the midst of a crowded sportswear landscape that will resonate with a niche target audience among the millennials.

Our research question

How can social media and nostalgia-driven communications help refresh a brand?

Academic & practical value

  1. We want to address a research gap in social-media enabled, nostalgia-driven communications.
  • Research studying the efficacy of nostalgia-driven advertising (Noel, 2008) exists. However, there is a dearth of literature on how social media can be used to reconnect with millennials (via leveraging nostalgic sentiments) to revitalize a brand. Our project will attempt to address this gap.
  • We also want to explore how brands can remain competitive by using modern tools to push old-school products—a subject we found interesting because the two appear to be contradictory in nature.
  1. We want to challenge the notion that communications theories are irrelevant outside of the classroom.
  • Communications practitioners often dismiss or neglect the value of academic frameworks. Our project aims to dispel such notions by utilizing communications theories to inform our social media strategy. The final proposal aims to be both actionable and research-evidenced.

Communications objectives

Our goal is to reestablish Fila’s brand relevance among millennials through the use of social media campaigns.

Social media will be the key medium which Fila needs to utilize to reach millennials. To achieve our goal, we will be pursuing the following communications objectives:

  • To raise awareness of the Fila brand among Gen Y and Gen Z consumers and
  • To carve out a niche identity for Fila as the alternative brand for the creative, independent community.
    • Includes the building of an online community on selected social media platforms.

Key messages

Our campaign strategy will build on Fila’s brand message of remain vintage, but never conventional. We will do this while riding on the waves of (1) rising nostalgia for retro designs among millennials and (2) the rise of sportsluxe fashion.

Building on this, we also intend to appeal to millennials’ love for individual expression and creativity.

Our key messages are:

  1. Fila is the voice of the independent creative spirit. Celebrating the individual, embracing unconventionality, Fila returns to a time where indie artists had true freedom of expression.
  2. Fila: both timeless and contemporary. Big brands are mainstream, ever-changing and transient. Only Fila embodies effortless heritage; anti-establishment in its rebellion against mainstream consumerism.

Target Audience

Who we’re going to target

We will be targeting fashion-conscious millennials. Academic theories which will be applied in identifying and justifying our choice includes social network theory, diffusion of innovation and stakeholder mapping theory.

We’re going to target millennials because…

Millennials are fashion-forward, early adoption consumers*, and will have increasing disposable income. This is a demographic group Fila, as a sportswear consumer brand, must capture to become visible and relevant again.

How we’re going to reach them

Fila needs to be where millennials are: on social media. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. The brand has some online presence, but it has a long way to go in curating content and building a community.

Measurements

There are two things we want to measure:

(1) Brand engagement level

(2) Changes in brand perception/awareness before and after our campaign.

Measuring brand engagement

  • of likes, increase in user base/followers, no. of active users on page, hashtags, comments and shares, views, reposts
  • Sentiment analysis tools/social engagement tools
    • g. SocialBakers

Measuring brand perception

  • Before-and-after brand perception and awareness surveys
  • Sentiment analysis/social engagement tools

Conclusion

  • We selected Fila because we are excited about the opportunities present for the brand. The current industry climate is ripe for Fila to regain lost ground with a key demographic—millennials—and a robust social media is the way to reach them.
  • At the same time, we will be exploring how social media-enabled, nostalgia-driven communications can revitalize a brand.
  • In the coming weeks, our team will be working on expanding our research, refining our problem definition, understanding the psychographics of our target group, and developing an executable strategy for reaching millennials.