Insight Update

From good to great – What makes an iconic marketing campaign iconic?

As an industry, we are largely undifferentiated, at least on a superficial level.

Our products are cross-comparable in performance and aesthetic. We all face the same increasing pressures of conscious consumerism. We all have a collective responsibility to encourage more people to get outside and create a more inclusive, diverse outdoor environment.

Combine the current state of play with an ever-increasing number of voices wanting to be heard, challenger brands wanting to be seen across new emerging channels, and the requirement for compelling campaigns has never been more prominent. The burning question is: How do we create a razor-sharp campaign that cuts through the noise like a hot knife though butter?

To help us find some answers, we speak with Ollie Robinson, Head of Strategy at Brandwave, one of the world’s leading sports marketing consultancies. Ollie draws on his experience strategically conceptualising and executing campaigns for some of the largest sports brands in the industry. Here’s 10 of Ollie’s touchpoints to help create iconic campaigns…

Insights – Great campaigns are always based on great insights. Narrow down, filter out, and focus in on three to five key insights that can be used to underpin the creative process, shape the narrative around your campaign and inform your go-to market activity. Creating iconic campaigns is all about meaningful metrics not vanity metrics which will impress the board.

Stopping Power – Look once. Look again. Compelling campaign creative will always stop your target audience in their dirt tracks and make them do a double-take. A high concept, original visual approach or a more understated approach of powerful copy and imagery combined will put a halt to the infinite scroll.

Polarise – If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Like any good brand, a good campaign won’t be everything to everyone. It’s ok for some people not to like the campaign, in fact it should be viewed as a positive. Don’t be afraid to show your brand’s unique personality.

Red Thread – It’s design 101 but it still stands true. If you remove the logo from creative and its indistinguishable as your campaign or content, it’s time to rethink your creative approach. Introduce colour treatments, textures or design elements that you can own as a brand. A red thread provides inherent flexibility when it’s time to roll-out campaign creative. We call it ‘the smashable brand’… if you take a glass Coca-Cola bottle and smash it, you can still identify it as a coke bottle even from a small piece of glass.

Scalability – Great campaigns are often underpinned by a strong messaging hierarchy or distinctive sub-messages. During the conceptualisation phase, always consider how your campaign can be scaled-up or applied across wider categories or targeted at the same audience in different seasons. SCOTT Sport’s infamous ‘No Shortcuts’ and Salomon’s recently launched ‘Tomorrow Is Yours’ are great example campaigns in practice.

Credit: Salomon

Think Global. Act Local – Tailor your campaign, content, and communications around regional variations and cultural differences. Rather than take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to your campaign, demonstrate you understand on a local level by collaborating with your teams on the ground in local markets, ask questions and listen to ensure the campaign has relevance and relatability. Great campaigns must be campaignable and have legs.

Shoot Responsibly – Brands and organisations are continually put under the sustainability spotlight with conscious consumerism an inter-generational thing. Consider where, how and what content you need to produce to bring your campaign to life.

Vaude’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond the product cycle and into their marketing. They choose to capture content locally to minimise crew travel. Prioritise the planet over getting “that” untouched off-piste powder field shot from a heli and certainly no single use plastic on location.

Credit: Vaude

Speak Up – We could all learn a lot from the FMCG and fast-food world on having an opinion and using it. Whether your campaign is multi-channel or a single OOH site, have the confidence to show humility, honesty, or some straight up personality behind your brand. Kudos to Yorkshire Tea on their recent billboard in Australia.

Credit: Yorkshire Tea / Prolific North

Be Real: Much like the emerging social channel namesake, there’s an increasing trend to share the lesser polished, produced, and over-filtered campaign content. People love a sneak peek at what goes on behind the scenes to bring campaigns to life. Capture stories and show the makings of to give your audience a more authentic insight into your brand. Cycling apparel brand Le Col based their whole SS21 campaign on just this; showing cyclists how they continued to launch the collection, even in the depths of lockdown restrictions.

Credit: Le Col

Represent: As brands, organisations, and agencies in the industry it’s our duty to positively shape and contribute to making the outdoors a more inclusive and accessible environment in the future. We believe that if you can see it, you can be it. It’s an important reminder that we all have a powerful opportunity when conceptualising, planning, and rolling-out campaigns to ensure our current and future audiences are heard, listened to, and most importantly represented. Check out the recently launch OUTO initiative to learn more –

Credit: Opening Up The Outdoors / OUTO

Brandwave work on creative and strategic consultancy for many of the sports industry’s most iconic brands including SHIMANO, PADI, Salomon, Adidas & INEOS. For more information on Ollie and Brandwave, email: or go to:

Header image: Credit: Brandwave / PADI Live Unfiltered Campaign

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