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Sports company K-Swiss is targeting younger males with a new mass-media campaign featuring Kenny Powers, the fictional character played by Danny McBride in the HBO series “Eastbound & Down.”
The campaign, which includes national TV spots, in-theatre ads, print media, digital/interactive campaigns and outdoor, introduces the Westlake Village, Calif.-company’s new “Tubes” lightweight training footwear. The campaign broke Aug. 2 and will lead into the return of the TV series, which debuts Sept. 26.
Powers, a slightly delusional ex-professional baseball player who has become a substitute middle school physical education teacher, is pitted against actual athletes including Jeremy Shockey of the New Orleans Saints, Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers, and Urijah Faber, the MMA Fighter and WEC Champion known as The California Kid.
“We wanted to deliver unfiltered straight talk about how awesome Tubes are,” said David Nichols, executive vice-president of K-Swiss, in a release. “Who better to do that than Kenny Powers? This approach is attention-grabbing, progressive, creative and playful, which is our marketing mantra.” Each execution of the campaign focuses on the shoe’s performance attributes: Lightweight, cushioning, offering stability and flexibility.
From Los Angeles-based 72andSunny, the campaign includes billboards in Times Square and Venice Beach, a campaign micro-site with exclusive content and N.Y. subway posters and bi-coastal wild postings with some featuring a 1-888 number where callers can hear an “inspirational” message from Powers.
Spots will appear on Versus, MTV, ESPN, FX and Comedy Central as well as in movie theaters nationwide. Additional touch points include a focused print media buy including ESPN Magazine, rich banners as well as Facebook Reach Block and a Facebook App called “Workout Wingman” where Powers will take over users’ Facebook pages while they are at the gym training.
The ads are also posted on YouTube and have received more than 32,000 hits as of press time, likely due in part to Kanye West tweeting the URL to his 380,000 followers.
Earlier this year, K-Swiss also entered into a marketing partnership with the star trainer of the show “The Biggest Loser,” Jillian Michaels. Last year, K-Swiss partnered with one of the stars of the show “Gossip Girl,” Ed Westwick.
“It all adds up to a celeb-led incursion into new, more youthful turf,” writes Abe Sauer on BrandChannel. “Older fans of the K-Swiss brand may not understand the association with Powers in particular — if it even hits their radar. But K-Swiss clearly has its sights set on both the action sports and youth front, and demonstrates that the brand may be attempting to shake its dignified middle-aged tennis guy image.”