Reebok Makes Huge Push Into CrossFit CNBC.com | January 13, 2012 | 09:51 AM EST
In the past couple years, the folks at adidas have done an incredible job bringing the Reebok brand back from the dead following a lack of producing anything special after the $3.8 billion acquisition was approved in January 2006.
Its ZigTech and RealFlex lines have been successful and it got as much as it could out of the toning space before the FTC fined the company for $25 million for unsubstantiated claims related to its EasyTone shoes.
The next step for Reebok is clearly aligning its brand with groundbreaking workout programs. In 2009, the brand launched a workout program called JUKARI with Cirque du Soleil. It failed to garner mass following. For a second attempt, Reebok has aligned itself with an already established workout brand, CrossFit, and hopes to ride the tremendous momentum of the strength and conditioning workout.
“This is the single biggest initiative we’ve focused on,” said Matt O’Toole, Reebok’s chief marketing officer. “This is consistent with our brand point of view. Just like we were part of women’s fitness decades ago, fitness is where we want to be.”
Reebok has quietly built up a steady relationship with CrossFit, which has gone from 18 gyms in 2005 to more than 3,000 gyms today. So far 43 of those gyms have been branded Reebok CrossFit boxes and the brand aims to have more than 150 branded CrossFit gyms by the end of 2012.
The realization that Reebok had to do something came as Reebok employees started buzzing about the workout, which emphasizes big weight and workout speed. Before long, there was a 5,000 square foot gym on Reebok’s Canton, Mass., headquarters that served as the ultimate case study.
“We love the idea of turning fitness into a sport,” O’Toole said.
Reebok’s partnership extended to the CrossFit Games, a competition to find the world’s fittest man and woman on earth. CrossFit signed a broadcast deal with ESPN [ DIS 38.40 -0.33 (-0.85%) ],which led to a much broader reach. Rich Froning, the men’s champ, got a $250,000 prize for winning it all this past year.
Reebok will also fold in the alliance with its bread and butter, making specific shoes and apparel. A Reebok CrossFit box will open on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in April with a retail location right next to it.
And if America didn’t know about the two partnering up, they will come Sunday, as a clever TV ad, playing off the idea of the box gym, will air for the first time during the NFC Divisional Playoffs.