Media Bank: Fila’s Ode to Sneaker Culture

As it looks to deepen its presence in the lifestyle market, Fila USA is rolling out fresh marketing initiatives this fall — representing Fila’s biggest investment in heritage products.

The centerpiece of the marketing push, which includes billboards along the I-95 corridor and updated in-store POP displays, is a new microsite at FilaIs.com.

“We looked at the online space, and there wasn’t a place where we could drive our beloved sneaker evangelists,” said Kelly Funke, Fila’s director of U.S. marketing. “Fila.com is clearly e-commerce driven, and we wanted to create a place where we could curate the message and give [consumers] something experiential.”

On the site, Fila showcases two new branded content platforms. The first is a profile series on upcoming influencers in fashion, art and photography. The second offers a lineup of videos called “Rise of The Independents” that highlights a different independent sneaker boutique each week.

Created by production company The Diamond Brothers, the online videos document the likes of Wish in Atlanta and West NYC and their passion for sneakers. In December, a short film featuring unseen footage from the series will also debut in New York.

“There’s so much focus on the kids collecting them, but not on the people who are providing the shoes to the kids,” said Fila director of creative John Lin. “Everyone knows these kids wait on line overnight, but no one really talks about this side of the culture that no ones sees a lot of.”

The video series not only focuses on Fila, but also includes mentions other brands in the category. The idea to refer to Fila’s direct competitors in the series was a move to engage consumers in the target demographic, rather than just promote Fila product.

“It’s not that we want to be the only brand in their closets; we want to be one of the brands,” said EVP of business operations Jennifer Estabrook. “And to do that, you have to recognize there are great brands out there and celebrate them.”

Added director of heritage and lifestyle product Louis Colon III: “The number one word is authentic. When we’re a part of the conversation of these buyers, retailers and people front-facing the consumer, it gives us a place in the current market.”

Looking ahead for spring ’14 marketing, Fila will look to expand the video series to include international retail partners. A return into branded retail may also be on the horizon, as Estabrook hinted at some ideas for alternative distribution.

“I have this crazy vision of something like a vending machine you put your credit card in and spits out a pair of shoes,” she said. “One of the big pushes we want to do for next year is have some type of retail opportunity in this category.”

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