Reebok and Free Range Fitness

Reebok and Free Range Fitness

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The ad tells the story of a chicken who makes a daring escape from the monotony of life in a massive chicken coop.  The escape requires surviving encounters with a farmer, a tractor, and traffic.  The liberated chicken decides to head not for the “Fitness Barn” and the chicken-coop-like approach to fitness but rather to follow fitness seekers running off the beaten path.

With this spot, Reebok tells viewers how it feels to wear Reebok by presenting an amusing story about the sort of people or chickens who follow the Reebok way.  The star of the ad and, presumably, all who follow the Reebok way are independent, free thinkers who are interested in fitness just not formulaic, institutionalized fitness.

The charming way in which the story is told tells viewers a lot about the story teller, the Reebok brand.  Viewers infer the qualities of the brand from the ad itself.  Automatically and effortlessly viewers ask and answer the question, “What sort of brand would make an ad like this?”  In this case, viewers infer the brand is likable with an offbeat sense of humor.  From the ad itself, viewers learn that the Reebok brand realizes that they, the viewers, are the sort of people who would enjoy this tale of a runaway chicken.

If this were an ad for Nike, the category leader, it would work beautifully.  Nike has about five times the market share of Reebok.  When people think of athletic apparel, Nike will surely pop spontaneously into their heads, Reebok may not.  Reebok should make an ad in which its name is central and inescapable rather than an ad that could feature any brand and which only supers the Reebok name and logo for the final few seconds.  “Life Free Range” is a big idea if it were inextricably tied to the Reebok brand.

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