Blackout Track is the world’s first running track for the mind. Creating a never-done-before, creative brand experience and inviting journalists, talent and influencers to test run the track, we utilised credible third parties, social channels and earned media to influence conversation within the running community and encourage perception of ASICS as the brand which targets every muscle of a runner’s body, including the mind. A Blackout edition of the Runkeeper app further influenced conversation and behaviour, and the entire campaign combined to deliver ASICS’ most successful shoe launch ever, with earned reach of +2.2BN and a sales increase of 125%.
ASICS used to be the only running shoe brand that was devoted to innovation. Nowadays all big shoe brands talk about the technology in their shoes, in similar voices, demonstrating what it does for a runner’s body.
ASICS – an acronym for a sound mind in a sound body – asked us to launch the new shoe GEL-KAYANO 25, a shoe packed with technology, but not hugely different from GEL-KAYANO 24.
10 percent sales increase compared to last year’s model GEL-KAYANO 24 (similar budget)
Engage and intrigue runner community online.
150 million in earned media coverage
Describe the creative idea
The ASICS GEL-KAYANO 25 is a running shoe so advanced, that the only thing holding runners back is their minds. While Fitbits, music and scenery pamper the mind, inadvertently making it more injury prone, ASICS believes in strengthening it.
What if we could find a way to highlight this fact to the running world, making them look at their mind as a runners' muscle and putting our shoe at the center of the conversation?
Blackout Track. We built the world’s first runner’s track to train the mind. Together with sport scientists, we constructed an indoor track with no music - pink noise speakers to create an audio vacuum, no tech - removed with metal detectors, no scenery, no starting-line and no finish line. Journalists, influencers and talent lined up to take part in the experience and to help us spread our message over the world.
Describe the strategy
Most runner shoe brands focus on helping bodies to move faster.
To use our Japanese heritage – ASICS is an acronym for a sound mind in a sound body – and start an emotionally relatable conversation on long distance running, we wanted to highlight that running is a mental sport. Because when you have the best shoes, it is the mind that will hold you back. So what if runners trained their minds as well as their bodies?
Together with sport scientists we built a 150M runner’s track to train the mind. We handpicked the right journalists, influencers and talent from markets all over the world. We secured own production on the site, making sure that we had content production throughout the experiment.
We even set out to find out how much of the speed that could be attributed to the mind (around 5%).
Describe the execution
Journalists, influencers and talent tried the ASICS Blackout Track for 20 minutes each - making it a very personal live experience. We had a partly prerecorded launch film going out already the first day, together with press material, high res images and ongoing content with our running influencers and talent.
Day 3 and 4 our professor made a scientific experiment to see how big role the mind plays when running, by running with and without distractions. The results of the experiment were released a couple of weeks after the live event itself, proving that the mind accounts for 5 percent of performance on tracks.
To make sure anyone in the world could try a blackout run, we introduced a Blackout Edition in Runkeeper, turning of music and notifications.
The track was the earned engine for the whole campaign, powerful enough to drive advertising, in store, digital, social.
List the results
Blackout Track was ASICS’ most successful shoe launch of all time.
- Sales Increase: 125% (Target =10% increase, compared with the 2017 shoe launch )
- Earned Reach: 2.2 Billion (Target = 150 Million)
- Runkeeper Blackout Edition App: 170,000 Downloads
Journalists ran or reported on the track. We spread the word through hundreds of calls, emails and texts. We achieved earned reach of 2.2 billion and in lots of places – as in Sky News live – ASICS brand promise of a Sound Mind in a Sound Body was highlighted. Coverage was highly brand relevant for ASICS, as well as big in numerics.
Influencers and ambassadors also lined up when they heard about the experiment creating strengthened relationships and brand affinity with these important groups. People reported having amazing experiences of running in solitary against their minds for 20 minutes, and the quotes they spread through social media were remarkable.
The Blackout edition in Runkeeper was downloaded more than 170 000 times globally in one week, showing huge appetite for looking at the mind as a runner’s muscle to train. It is now a permanent feature in the app.
The huge coverage and engagement on this topic, and it being so distinctively ASICS, increased sales. Without GEL-KAYANO 25 having any ground breaking new features, or the budget being larger than the year before, the sales went up with 125 percent for GEL-KAYANO 25 compared to GEL-KAYANO 24 the year before.