Fila never died we simply did not know what their story was and what box to put them in.
The one memory I have with Fila goes back to my Primary school days. I remember the day very clearly. It was civies day on a random Friday and as kids we all tried to be the most swagged out kid. The guys always tried to get the girls with the brands they wore. Forgive me this is what we did in Durban and the mack game was very childish so clothes always broke the ice. Our parents wanted us to mirror their success and each kid had to be swagged up. We would be rocking S-curls, ama kless belts and dripping with global brands. Damn I miss those days.
Growing up as a kid we never really paid attention to what a brand actually means. I mean you really never knew what ‘Just Do It’ actually meant. All these brands created power with the associations they attached themselves to. For Fila the association compared to all the other brands was very vague, different and never stood for something that I can actually define. You may read this and see it as a negative but I believe that the brands that allow consumers to define them stand the test of time. Add that with a consistent Italian look and feel with a retro feel Fila is consistent and still looks like what it did a few years ago. Again this is not a bad thing.
So fast forward to 2017. Fila is back. They are active on social media. The influential and cool people are wearing their brand. They have a buzz but what is the buzz and what are they getting right? I am not going to bore you with pretending to know the answers here. I will use my instincts and insights as strategist which have worked in building the brands I have worked on in my 9 year career as a strategist. Remember my earlier point of a brand that is hard to define? Yes thats Fila.
Fila is back but Fila never left. We as consumers left. We have been exposed to so many brands that we chose to wear so as to define who we are. But with the world becoming more predictable I feel that people are feeling Fila because it is making them stand out.
With that being said peep some of the silent brand moves that Fila is making in building their brand locally.
Lesson 1: Early Adopters
Model: Doo Wap
Marketing is a very strange industry. Selling ideas is like having a baby. You need to wait for ideas to be made or produced. This is all good but sometimes you need to give your brand to a select few individuals and let them do the push for you for the brand to come.
This is the thing Fila is doing, They have selected a few influential individuals to be aligned with the brand. The other clever thing they did here is identify people who have an interesting point of view. These are people who have their inner circles where a brand like Fila can spread like wildfire.
Lesson 2: Relevancy
The music industry is another interesting industry. You need to be relevant to be top of mind. It’s one of the most difficult things any artist can do. Especially independent artists who have to go at it on their own. Again Fila has managed to intercept this tension and has aligned with relevant musicians who are making a noise for themselves.
Gemini Major is the complete package. He raps, produces, sings and has a distinct style. I feel that he is one of the more relevant people that Fila should be doing more work with. He has been seen rocking Fila and this can make many people ask if he is an influencer.
Another rapper who is relevant is Kid X. He is recreating his musical identity and it makes sense why Fila would partner with someone like him. He rarely endorses clothing brands which gives him some type of authenticity.
Photo By: @aust_malema
Lesson 3: FiLAmily
The S-curl generation has grown up, become very corporate and now look for brands with more meaning. However there is a new generation known as The Millennial generation who are shattering consumer norms as we know them. For this generation a brand has to have meaning and different point of view.
I have a strong feeling that Fila is appealing to the 1994\1996 generation who never saw Fila when they were growing up. They never really appreciated the brand for what its for. They have been exposed to so many other lifestyle brand and when Fila is starting to make it’s way back to SA they are feeling it because it is new, authentic and has always been around. So its like the youth are playing catch up and trying to define Fila in their own terms.
Lesson 4: Strong Heritage
On The Left:Björn Borg
A strong heritage or history also allows people to buy your product or just simply end up loving your brand. I am not sure that the strong Italian heritage is shining in how Fila is doing their stuff locally but for those in the know Italy stands for one thing. Quality.
Italian brands have always represented quality. I remember back in the days in Durban there were guys who were called amaTalian. These were guys who dressed well. They were very confident. They took care of their skin. They wore tapered clothing never baggy. As I look at the people who are feeling Fila I am reminded of amaTalian and how they used to be the outcasts but were always clean and daper.
Most people would not be researching how in 1911 a small town in Northern Italy would give rise to a brand that formed was brothers who were inspired by their landscape.
Lesson 5: Women Focus
The big elephant in street wear world is the lack of street wear brands aimed at women. Sure there are brands that are starting to consider women but the gap between mens wear brand and female brands is a big stretch.
Without knowing it Fila has managed to speak to women in their photoshoots and the people that are wearing the clothes. So from the onset Fila will be sure to appeal to a market that is often ignored.
Lesson 6: Exclusives Only and Building FOMO
The final lesson on how Fila is strategically building it’s brand is based on access. Where in the hell can one get all the Fila items we have been seeing? I know right. Fila does always answer questions to where people can get their items but unless you ask you won’t know. And if you don’t know you going to have deep FOMO.
One of the tricks in marketing is to make people want your product so badly that they will want to do anything. People really want to know where they can get Fila. This means that the love is there and people are open to spending their money. This is prolly the most important lesson because demand is what keeps the lights on for most brands.
So there you have it. Fifa is building it’s brand in South Africa by doing six things. They are consistent with their approach. When most brands go out and do big campaigns Fila is building it’s brand very slowly. They are in no rush. I guess it’s working based on how many people are starting to take note of their efforts.
If you feel I have missed a lesson or want to build on this hit me up in the comment box or email me at Skinnygenesdottv@gmail.com. I would love to engage with you further on this topic. Also I will be dropping more #SilentBrandMoves in future. So keep it locked. Keep visiting this platform.
Yours In Culture