How One Brand Is Talking to CrossFitters Without Saying CrossFit

Reebok’s partnership with CrossFit prevents other brands from using the sport’s name in marketing. But the deal doesn’t prevent labels from talking to its participants and trying to win them over.

One brand working to earn the respect and admiration of the CrossFit community is Nobull.

Led by former Reebok execs Marcus Wilson and Michael Schaeffer, Nobull has managed to develop a strong digital presence, align itself with several renowned CrossFitters and deliver shoes the sport’s participants clamor for.

All of this has been accomplished without actually saying the word “CrossFit.”

Nobull Brooke Ence Trainer CrossFit
Brooke Ence in Nobull.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nobull.

Wilson believes Nobull’s brand identity and its beliefs in community and personal growth aligns with the CrossFit way of thinking.

“We really focus on the mentality, the movements and the mindset that connects with CrossFit globally in a very powerful way,” Wilson explained. “[Because of this], we don’t have to use that word in order to connect with people.”

This commonality has created an ongoing dialogue between Nobull and the CrossFit world, which is happening predominantly digitally.

“God bless social media,” Wilson said. “Social media is vitally important certainly to our business, but also to the broader CrossFit consumer.”

Schaeffer added, “A TV commercial 15 years ago when broadcasted, you don’t really know what people think about it unless you do a focus group. Social media is not a one-way conversation; it’s a constant dialogue. If you don’t talk straight with the community, you hear it immediately. It’s beautiful because you get it straight up, people don’t hold back.”

Nobull Lemon Drop Trainer
The Nobull "Lemon Drop" Trainer on foot.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nobull.

While you will see Nobull active online, where you’re unlikely to see the brand advertise is with traditional platforms such as print and broadcast media. And you won’t catch them engaging with focus groups, either.

“Today, you could not possibly have the same level of engagement [as on social media] without being at an event or a focus group, and those things are too formal,” Wilson said. “Social media it’s just completely raw and unfiltered in a very good way.

Schaeffer added, “The beauty for us at our scale is we have the opportunity to be directly involved in the conversation. Big brands also have social media and conversations going on, but for us it’s a very direct line, which is awesome, and we can react quickly to the interactions that take place daily there.”

Although Nobull communicates via several social media platforms, there is one where the brand’s reach and community is the strongest: Instagram.

The social media platform is so popular among CrossFitters, according to Schaeffer, because of the visual stimulus the sport provides.

“It’s more direct, you see it right away,” he said. “CrossFit is about workouts and movements, so there’s a very strong visual aspect to be connected to digitally, so you can understand what’s going on.”

Nobull currently has 147,000 followers on its Instagram account, @nobullproject.

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