Run Easy? Brilliant.

Run Easy Campaign... Four out of Five Bees

Reebok recently launched a $30 million multimedia marketing campaign themed, "Run Easy." The campaign is designed to motivate runners to have fun rather than kill themselves during workouts. The campaign is the opposite of the position that Nike practically owns with “Just Do It”. One of Reebok’s poster ads actually directly attacks Nike's aggressive "Just Do It" marketing mantra with the image of a runner near collapse and the message: "What are you just doing? Run easy."

Reebok’s Chief Marketing Director says the message doesn't make it a slacker brand. Rather, he says, it reminds runners to enjoy the sport at a pace that's right for them — a comfortable pace Reebok calls "running at the speed of chat."

Another goal of the campaign is to re-establish Reebok's image with women, once a core market for the brand.

Running is the most lucrative segment of the athletic footwear market, with US sales jumping 5 percent to $4.9 billion between 2004 and 2006 and average prices increasing 9.5 percent to $40.47 over the same period (according to market research firm NPD Group in Port Washington, N.Y).

I think the campaign is brilliant. Think about your office. How many people work out occasionally? 40%? What percentage of your co-workers have completed a triathlon, or just a marathon? 3%? Nike and Adidas both focus their advertising on the elite athlete—someone that the majority of consumers cannot relate. Reebok is speaking to the larger portion of athletic shoe-buyers with a message and a position that has, surprisingly, never been attempted! Reebok isn’t telling consumers to be lazy or not put effort into exercise. They are saying, it’s ok to enjoy exercise and its ok that you aren’t running a 6-minute mile...“Run Easy.”

However, the campaign has received negative attention from bloggers. One blogger said:

Run Easy?!?!?

I must say that Reebok just lost me as a customer.

To me this Run Easy messaging means:

Don't train so hard. Don't bother. It ain't worth it. In fact don't even bother going to gym, just put on your comfy Reeboks and sit around. Watch TV. Drink some beer. Be a sloth.

I’m not sure how a commercial that depicts people running is encouraging drinking beer, watching TV and being a sloth. But I could be wrong, maybe that is what Reebok is saying.

The campaign will include:

Consumer video online: incorporates Google maps and Flickr technology, visitors can upload favorite running tunes and scenes from favorite routes to create personal running videos for viewing by others.

Posters and billboards. Photos of runners in pain poke fun at the "no pain, no gain" mentality. "Why are you hitting the wall? It hurts," and "Run + Puke + Run = Crazy."

TV ads with athletes running "at the speed of chat." Many celebrity endorsers including the NBA's Allen Iverson, soccer star Thierry Henry and track athletes Carolina Kluft and Aries Merritt run in pairs, chatting as they go.