In late April of 2021, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles announced she would be transitioning away from her partnership with well-known sports brand Nike and into the role of brand ambassador for the women’s active-wear clothing company, Athleta. This announcement came on the heels of multiple scandals in the gymnastics world, including the conviction of Larry Nassar, former team doctor for the USA Gymnastics Team, who was found guilty for sexually assaulting gymnasts under his care. As Biles ramps up for the much anticipated 2021 Olympic Games, Athleta truly hit the nail on the head when it came to selecting their new spokesperson; the most decorated American gymnast of all time and a champion for women’s voices around the world.
In recent years, Athleta has become an industry leader when it comes to an inclusive, women-centered approach to their identity. From their female leadership team and the models they feature in their campaigns to the comfortable, flattering, and functional nature of their clothing, Athleta has staked their claim in the realm of mid-to-high-end desirable athleisure. It’s obvious that Athleta’s marketing and design teams have been listening to the calls for more diversity, more size inclusivity (offering sizes from 2XS – 3XL), and less editing of promotional photography. Their campaigns highlight a range of skin colors and body sizes so that more women feel included in the brand’s identity. It’s no surprise that a world champion like Simone Biles would be ready to jump on the Athleta bandwagon whilst sporting her long-time favorite red leggings (mentioned in her Instagram post on April 23, 2021). Biles’ move to Athleta exemplifies her belief in a world (and brand) that uplifts and empowers women and girls of all backgrounds. A winning brand strategy, in my opinion, for Athleta.
Beyond their strong visual campaign identity and the vibrant, trendy cuts and patterns, Athleta seems to embody their company values and brand strategy with action efforts such as The Power of She Fund and the Amplify Artist Series. Consumers, including myself, have become increasingly sensitive to a brand’s authenticity and Athleta clearly recognizes that. As a web and advertising agency, it’s our mission to craft brands that feel intentional and honest with a website that is accessible, easy to navigate, and compatible with numerous devices. Athleta is doing this incredibly well with a clean, recognizable mark, a high quality product, consistent messaging, and a mission statement they actually adhere to; “…to ignite a community of active, healthy, confident women and girls who empower each other to reach their limitless potential.”
My guess? Nike, Lululemon, and other competitors are taking notes. Here’s to a brave new world of advertising that celebrates and encourages people of all ages, sizes, genders, skin colors, and ability.