If you are a gambler take note when the Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo signs an athlete. Last year the company pulled the personable Novak Djokovic away from his longtime partner Sergio Tacchini, just in time for another epic run through a Grand Slam summer. This past week they rolled the dice and grabbed Aussie Adam Scott on his way to Augusta, and the result was the first ever Green jacket for someone from Oz. Maybe they should grab the Chicago Cubs?
Now anyone around key urban areas in the United States like New York will know Uniqlo. Owned by Asia’s largest apparel retailing company, Fast Retailing Co., they are on Fifth Avenue and the suburbs, and when they enter a market they dominate the landscape with their unique logo well in advance of launch. There are no TV or radio ads, it is all about location print, digital and engaging at the point of sale. The brand is massive around the world, hence the harnessing of two engaging international male athletes as ambassadors.
So while many watching the playoff this past Sunday may have scratched their heads and said “Unique Who” while watching Scott sink his last putt on 10 to take the coveted crown, the brand impact was for exactly that. Who is this, what are they and when are they coming here? For now the two stars endorse and wear the affordable apparel, but there is no push by the company to engage heavily in the space in the States outside of their retail locations…they are not adidas, Nike or Under Armour, or for that matter Tacchini or Izod. They are a massive retailer…think Forever 21, with their own lines who have cracked a global space and now will push even more into the malls of select America, and their strategy is to do that, and enhance their global footprint, through a pair of personable, vibrant male athletes who happen to be on top of the tennis and golf worlds.
The choices were selective, got brand buzz at announce and were very cost efficient for two athletes looking to make a change. For Uniqulo the constant presence of a patch in front of millions for Djokovic on his rigorous schedule and now for Scott at the top of his game reaffirms the brand positioning where the retailer is strong, and exposes it to new consumers who may do a little Google to find out more, and be a bit more aware when the company continues to grow into new territory.
Like Djokovic’s serves and Scott’s putting, timing is everything for Uniqulo, a company that has picked two winners to grab awareness as it expands, and leaves agents, marketers and even some gamblers maybe, wondering who’s next?