Tag Archives: crossfit

The Difference Between Invasive and Innovative Advertising is The Interest

I have mentioned earlier that I practice CrossFit. As a part of the addiction, I have become a victim of advertising and started spending on CrossFit apparel. When I started to train, it was ok to just go with regular running sneakers and whatever gear you had. Now I have different shoes for weightlifting and other exercises. I cannot even think of going back to training with normal (read: non-branded but equally functioning apparel).

Talk about taking your own medicine.

I was reminded of my Crossfit-addiction, when I noticed this ad on my Gmail:


I had not heard about the brand (Rhone) before, but it had the magic words that sparked my interest and also a discount. Discount is an interesting thing: if you are offered it, it already feels like bargain before you even know the starting price. Uncharacteristically I clicked on the ad (which was probably the first Gmail ad I have clicked ever).

The site offered apparently sweat and smell-proof shirts with quite steep prices. With my excessive sweating and vain ways I am of course the ideal target audience. After checking a while there came a pop-up which offered an opportunity to participate in lottery. Discount is interesting, but even more interesting is an opportunity to win something for free.


Naturally I signed up, so they have now my contact details.

After that I have been encountering Rhone advertising in my FB feed. They have been smartly changing the picture so I have noticed it every time:



Again uncharacteristically I clicked and again there was a pop-up with time-limited offer:


Nothing Rhone does is crazy innovative or cutting edge: just simple retargeting. They are essentially using the oldest bribes in marketing world: discount, rewards, exclusivity and lucky draw. If I would encounter as much communications from a brand in different field I would be super pissed off. Now I am more delighted and pondering should I actually test those shirts. That is exactly what smart marketing should do. From the starting point of not even knowing the brand, becoming a potential buyer within only a week is quite a feat.

So the lesson is: if you are able to find audience with natural interest, you can almost borderline spam them if you offer them something rewarding. People get touchy about marketing when it is totally irrelevant for them. It is not so much about what you say, but to whom you say it.

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Training Hard Makes You More Human

“We are not encouraging people to just run faster for the sake of being faster. We are saying that ultimately you will be able to enjoy life if you take the time to cater to your own humanity.”
Matt O´Toole (Reebok President)

Reebok has been a really interesting brand lately.

Their commitment to fitness has been a bold move and also makes perfect sense (as we have to also bear in mind that Reebok is owned by Adidas). Especially there has been tremendous growth in “tough fitness” which includes crossfit, martial arts and other “more demanding than your regular Zumba”-activities. What started out as a niche exercise has become now mainstream and everyone is flipping tires these days: me as well.

During the latest Super Bowl, Reebok launched their new brand belief piece “Be More Human”:

I like it (mainly because I am part of target audience). Also because the message Reebok conveys is part of my whole life philosophy. I don´t eat to live, I don´t train to live. I live to train & eat. Sports is not just a way to prevent your inevitable physical deterioration, it also strengthens you mentally and socially.

Training hard improves you as a person. Competing against others makes you tougher but it is also social. I have learned more from teamwork, leadership and grit from basketball court than from work. When you push it to the limits in sports, you are more likely to be able to push it to the limits with other things as well.

And that belief I heartily endorse.

The other reason why Reebok´s message is compelling is that it is not for all. Reeboks has made a deliberate decision to be exclusive. Their core focus is in tough fitness and quite hardcore training with blood, blisters, sweat, snot, tears and tear down. Whereas the usual scared brand advertiser would have expanded the target audience and showed people doing all the mundane fitness moves and have message about how “fitness is for everyone”, Reebok kept the focus. Reebok is for those who train hard (or think they train hard, like me). The almost brutal nature of their ads is refreshing compared to the touchy-feely lifestyle-routes the majority of sports brands have chosen.

“We’re confident that when we push ourselves, we not only transform our bodies, we transform our entire lives.”
Matt O´Toole

That brings us to the last point. They are expanding, but they are promoting the whole category of tough fitness (which can basically mean quite diverse things) and training hard. Their message resonates naturally to those who currently are sport freaks, but it also has appeal to people who push themselves in other things in life. Showcasing the more “holistic” (in the lack of better word) benefits of intense exercise, they collaborated with scientist David McRaney and created the Human score to calculate your level of humanness:

It is a human nature to be a sucker for tests and I could not wait to test my humanness. I was luckily still more close to human than android. “Brain buff” also sounds like a new upcoming fad term like spornosexual:


As part of the campaign there is also a selfie competition (because no brand is perfect) and some other infographics about how training affects your brain.

Reebok is at least having tight focus on what they are doing. I believe that it will also pay off, if they have the perseverance and patience to follow their daring brand belief through.

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Picture is Worth Thousand Words; Ink is Worth A Billion More

I have been Nike head as long as I have done any sports; still I have really liked the laser-sharp focus Reebok has had lately with their marketing. Their decision to concentrate solely on fitness and Crossfit will likely to be proven to be the right one. It makes perfect sense from Adidas (their owner) point-of-view as well. Adidas can be the slightly safer more traditional big brother, whereas Reebok has more character and ruggedness. Reebok has been a typical middle brand throughout its life: second-class Nike or Adidas (only differentiator being their Britishness). Their classic sneakers are all a little bit of novelty such as Reebok Pumps. Now they have clear sense of mission and a distinct attitude:

Pain is temporary, Reebok is forever and what would be better way to showcase it than inking the logo to you? What brand logo would you tattoo to yourself? And what price?

Of course this is promotional stunt (you might get 5k USD Reebok sponsorship), but still it takes some commitment to take the logo with you forever. The new logo for Reebok (which originally came from Crossfit) manifests their commitment to fitness and the logo tattoo brings the words of Matt O´Toole (CMO, Reebok) to life:

The new brand mark signals a clear purpose for our brand and it will be a badge for those who pursue a fuller life through fitness. We believe the benefits of an active life go beyond the physical benefits and impacts your whole self and your relationships with others.

Now there are 93 tattooed brand ambassadors testing how that tattooed brand logo affects their relationship with others and goes beyond the physical benefits.

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What CrossFit Can Teach You About Branding

Those who read my post last week will already know that I have not yet become totally cynical to the art of marketing. I fell victim to good branding once in a while. I have been reminded of this gullibility, because lately I have desperately wanted to start CrossFit.

For those who are not in the know, CrossFit is an intense exercise program characterized by functional training using non-traditional weighlifting equipment (such as kettlebells). It has been probably been the hottest thing lately (especially among guys) in exercise circles and become quite mainstream in last couple of years. Reebok is also betting heavily on the rise of CrossFit.

I am already sports crazy. I run and do circuit training every morning, play in two basketball teams and try to swim once in a while. I do not really need any additions to my sports regime. I am healthy enough. The urge to start Crossfit is not rational decision. It has been branded well. It feels natural, because the exercise is functional. It feels total antithesis of the shiny gyms: many times CrossFit-sessions happening in the old warehouses. It has strong ethos of pushing to the limit, which resonates well with my view of sports in general. Exercising is not supposed to be fun. Only pain brings gain.

However when I was searching for the alternatives for CrossFit training in Singapore, I was shocked by the steep price tag of monthly prices. You should not really pay over 200+ dollars for basic circuit training in shitty warehouse. Or should you?

This is the inner dialogue I had:

Left brain: Hey that guy just took your our basketball summer training and is now charging hundreds of dollars a month from a glorified circuit training!
Right brain: But I want to push tractor tires to feel like a man!

Left brain: You push yourself too hard even in your morning jogs, CrossFit can actually destroy your muscles.
Right brain: Whatever, I want to train until I puke.
(Actually I heard a rumour that Red Bull sales increased when there was news coverage about alleged deaths of mixing Red Bull with Alcohol. Danger attracts.Also a vast majority of the news stories about harmfulness of different sports are written and shared by people who just want to find excuses for not exercising)

Why Crossfit is currently so appealing?

1. Proven business model
Crossfit.inc (founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman) follows in many ways the same success formula of the rise of “Les Mills”-branded classes, best known for Bodypump-classes. They license the Crossfit name to gyms for an annual fee and certify trainers. Licensing business is one of the most profitable types of business in the world.

 2. Room for creativity
Whereas Les Mills feels more like the McDonald´s of Gym Exercise (it is the same in every part of the globe), CrossFit still feels like a rebel alternative for it. Every CrossfFit-training can be different and the possible variations for the training are infinite.

3. Perfect training type for digital office worker
No-frills type of training feels perfect antidote for the overtly digital world we are living in. Also the sessions are high-intensity short bursts, which you can easily fill even to the busiest calendar.

4. Fueled by social media
I doubt that the sports would not be as big without the connected world we are living. There are CrossFit-forums, Facebook pages and endless amount of training videos. After watching this video by Finnish CrossFit-hero Mikko Salo, it almost felt I was training myself (150k views, btw):

5. Good story to tell
Exercising should always be about your own health and development. The truth is though that many times people exercise also for the bragging rights. CrossFit just sounds way cooler than being in Spinning. No offense to Spinning.

I probably try CrossFit despite the steep price tag. If no for other reason than to give a nod for the branding well done.

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