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Who knew the walk from the car park to the training ground could turn into a multi-million-pound marketing opportunity? Not just a tactic for luxury brands, we take a look how we can apply these lessons for all brands. 

Luxury fashion brands have secured their evolving position in the sports industry thanks to their adaptability, versatility, and alignment with contemporary lifestyle trends that merge athletes, iconic moments, and style. Here are four key insights we can extract from the fashion industry's masterclass to implement across all sectors.

1. Show it, don’t say it

The world of luxury fashion is taking the sports world by storm, with several iconic collaborations, such as SKIMS entering the court alongside the NBA, a partnership no one saw coming. 

SKIMS, an undergarment brand designed to maximise comfort, could have pushed messaging about their product's breathability, movement, and support across all campaigns. Instead, they decided to collaborate as sponsors with the NBA to SHOW the comfort in action. Instead of stating precisely what their products are about, they showed how good the product is that the players who need to have maximum comfort and movement to win championship games, have given SKIMS the seal of approval. 

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This marketing tactic isn’t just for fashion brands. The same can be applied to hospitality. Instead of talking about how wonderful the venue is, or describing how great the menu is, guests are likely to be more enticed by being shown it. Showing off the space and the experience you can expect from within it. It's about showcasing those "wow" moments, where future guests can start to imagine themselves in venue, experiencing it for themselves. It's a powerful endorsement that speaks louder than just product images. 

The lesson here is clear: don't just tell your consumers how great your venue is – show them. Find a unique, unexpected way to demonstrate how great your menu or venue is. If this is through food photography, user generated content, walk through videos of the venue or even have a drone fly through the entire venue to showcase the space and everything in it, it's all about making a statement. 

2. A perfect match
OFF-WHITE X AC Milan, Game Ready Feeling

Sportswear has been driving marketing success through collaborations between streetwear and high-end fashion. Off-White capitalised on a moment of high visibility and emotional engagement by dressing the AC Milan team for pre-match appearances, creating a powerful brand association with performance, style and anticipation. This snapshot moment of a team arriving at a game was photographed and streamed across several sports channels, watched by fans and even the opposition. Off-White have been able to strike at emotionally heightened moments through their collaboration with AC Milan –  a great example of a strategic marketing approach that integrates two seemingly opposed fashion cultures. Showing that Off-White certainly understand their consumers on an emotional level.

The concept of combining streetwear and high-end fashion is a move now being reflected with the hospitality industry. There is something mesmerising about an expensive and inexpensive pairing such as Michelin Star chefs doing collaborations with the best street food chefs, it’s a crossover of two different worlds that intrigues consumers as well as pulling in a new target market.

This approach underscores the importance of aligning your brand with significant moments that capture your audience's attention and emotions. The aim is to position your brand within a context of heightened emotional investment, similar to the moment when AC Milan players, dressed in Off-White, step into the spotlight. Such strategic placement that overtakes ordinary advertising; it creates an emotional bond with the audience, leveraging the shared excitement and anticipation. If you’re an F&B brand, you should seek opportunities like this to embed key moments whether through partnerships, sponsorships, or strategic timing of product launches or venue openings. The aim is to create a narrative that intertwines your brand with experiences that resonate with your target audience.

In simple terms, the goal is to elevate your brand's presence by associating it with moments of peak engagement and relevance. This strategy is not just about visibility – it's about creating a memorable, emotionally charged connection with your audience, enhancing the perceived value and appeal of your brand. 

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3. Standing out where your customers are, but your competition isn’t

Over in tennis, we have seen luxury brands utilise the lack of competition on the court to their advantage. Gucci stepped onto the Wimbledon court with Jannik Sinner, not just to play tennis but to play a smart branding game. They brought a gorgeous Gucci-branded tennis bag into the spotlight, a move not commonly seen in the sport's traditional setting. It was all about showing off their brand where their target audience's eyes were glued – right on Sinner's walk to the court, breaking boundaries at Wimbledon. This has also been seen with Miu Miu Tennis Club, a new collaboration with tennis gear and Hypebeast starting Hypegolf. 

Now, what can your brand learn from this? Think about how you can place your F&B brand in a context that's unexpected yet completely spot-on for capturing your audience's attention. It's not just about being seen; it's about being remembered in a setting that resonates with your target market. It's all about creating that connection, letting your brand shine in the right moment and the right place. Just like Gucci knew that Wimbledon was where their audience would be watching, you need to pinpoint where your customers are focusing their attention. Is it a popular event, a specific influencer or certain platform? Find out who your consumer is, where they’re looking and that's your court. Take a leaf out of Gucci's playbook, refresh your strategy. Find your brand's Wimbledon moment – where you can break into new territory, make a statement, and connect with your audience in a way that feels both natural and unexpected. It's about crafting those moments that speak volumes about your brand without needing a sales pitch, being able to craft comes from truly understanding where your customer is spending time. 

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4. Turning athletes into marketing tools 

Michael Jordan scores with Nike, LeBron James' game day gear is now associated with Louis Vuitton elegance, Steph Curry gears up for games in Under Armour, and Marcus Rashford teams up with Burberry to boost youth literacy. These instances highlight how brands have successfully harnessed athletes as marketing powerhouses, a strategy that, while impactful, is more complex than it appears.

For this to be a success you need to thoroughly understand the common ground between you and your consumer, which is the key to creating a solid brand strategy. Knowing what you do, who you are and what the common ground is with your audience, will allow you to effectively connect with them. It will also allow you to find and work with athletes or influencers who represent that common ground. 

Finding that can create a sense of community and relationship – and utilising a person is a great way to personalise and create deeper engagement. Emotionally, associating your brand with someone your audience admires with the same mindset or approach to life, will build deeper connections outside of purchasing products, that can lead to them returning time and time again. F&B brands can significantly benefit from genuinely understanding and connecting with your audience. It is not just about who they are or where they are, it’s about what matters to them. How do you use this to build a connection with your target audience?

By identifying shared values and interests, a brand can develop a strategy that resonates deeply with consumers. Authenticity is key – knowing and staying true to your brand's identity attracts and retains customers. Strategic partnerships with personalities who embody the brand's values can amplify this connection, making the endorsement feel personal and authentic. Creating a sense of community around these shared values fosters loyalty, while establishing emotional connections with the audience ensures they keep coming back. This approach transforms customers into devoted advocates, crucial for long-term success.

Why look elsewhere?

Alongside brand and competitor analysis, we also look into other sectors for learnings. Regardless of your industry, we seek inspiration from everywhere, drawing insights from beyond your immediate sector to fuel our creativity. Instead of focusing solely on your direct competitors, we broaden our horizons, observing and learning from the triumphs of brands in other industries. This way, we can infuse your strategy with diverse and innovative ideas, setting you apart in your field.

Get in touch about marketing strategy and how collaborations (whether with brands or people) can help your brand to resonate with your audience.