NEW YORK: Speedo is responding to Federation Internationale de Natation's (FINA) recent ban on polyurethane swimsuits with messaging delivered through Michael Phelps, with whom the company has a long-term sponsorship deal, and the Speedo Facebook page.
The company messaging highlights the company's agreement with the ban as a means of ensuring fairness. However, the company is also expressing its displeasure at the degree of restriction.
“Michael Phelps is helping us with our messaging to the public that communicates, first of all, that we're pleased these suits are banned, and second of all that Speedo will continue to innovate within these new rules,” said Craig Brommers, SVP of marketing at Speedo. He added, however, that the company expressed displeasure at some of the regulations included in the ban, which he said “roll back the silhouette of the swimsuit to 1996 levels.”
"During the past week we've communicated that to governing bodies and media,” he said.
The Speedo Facebook page is a main messaging platform to reach consumers directly. The Facebook page highlights the company's release statement, as well as FINA's statement on the matter.
Upon hearing about the decision in late July, Brommers said his team, which was in Rome for the world championships, formed a PR war room to devise a communications strategy and messaging. Speedo is also working with AOR Brener Zwikel & Associates on the response initiative.
According to Brommers, the controversy is indicative of a larger trend in which news surrounding sports overshadows the actual game. In response, he said the company has to monitor the media more closely and respond directly to consumers more aggressively.
“Ten years ago, Speedo may have been solely focused on what was happening in the pool," said Brommers. "Now we have to be cognizant of the newsmaking capabilities of swimsuits, of rules, and have to be prepared to handle very fast-moving situations like never before.”