WINSTON-SALEM, NC: Hanesbrands is using a Mount Everest climbing expedition to position its Champion athletic apparel line as leading and cutting edge.
“Everest has been summited by hundreds of people, but still has a mystique for most Americans,” said Matt Hall, VP, external communications, Hanesbrands. “It has a really strong brand equity, which we felt would be advantageous to our company and to our Champion brand.”
Mountaineer Jamie Clarke aims to summit the world's highest peak next spring, wearing high-altitude garments currently in development at Champion (in partnership with sister brand Duofold, a cold-weather base layer apparel). Hall told PRWeek the goal is not to sell niche, high-altitude gear, but use the learning from the R&D toward more mainstream products, particularly around temperature control.
To promote the expedition, Champion has launched the Web site, www.ClimbEverestWithUs.com. The site invites consumers to answer the question, “What's Your Everest?” via text or video, for the chance to win $10,000 towards helping achieve their goal. Each entry will be shared on the site, allowing for people to post comments. “What's Your Everest?” also features a Facebook application that directly links to participants' personal Facebook pages.
“We want to develop a community, and by developing that community, make them the core of what the program is about,” said Hall. He said that's why the campaign invites others to post their “Everest”—whatever their aspiration might be—because they want the program to be inclusive. “It is not [targeted at] hardcore, competitive athletes, but speaks to the way most people interact with sport and athletic wear.” By focusing on the achievement, rather than winning, the campaign also ties into Champion's “How You Play” slogan, he added.
In addition to social media, Champion has also partnered with outdoor adventure freelance writers, Stephen Regenold (www.gearjunkie.com) and Stephanie Pearson (Outside magazine). While the freelance journalists will be paid to write content for the site, Hall said in no way are they being paid to endorse product. “They both have quite a following through Web sites and blogs, and bring a lot of credibility,” said Hall. “We've structured this so they can build on their credibility.”
Champion will also work with PR firm O'Malley Hansen Communications, in terms of media outreach leading up to and during the climb. “We've been working on the campaign for 18 months, and I think what makes it very unique is that there are opportunities over many months for additional reach and [media] coverage,” said Elizabeth Castro, VP, O'Malley Hansen Communications.