July 2, 2018, London, UK Uniqlo, the Japanese global apparel retailer announces a partnership with Roger Federer, the most celebrated tennis player of all-time. Uniqlo announces Roger Federer will be leaving Nike to become their (Uniqlo’s) newest Global Brand Ambassador. The partnership will span 10 years and is worth in excess of 300 million USD. This is a sign of intent by Uniqlo, who has dominated Japan for years and now wants to compete in the west.
Addressing the press, a Uniqlo spokeswoman shared details about the partnership. I listen carefully listen for any key insights on Uniqlo's marketing and branding approach. And I wasn’t disappointed. The Uniqlo spokeswoman provides some insight on how they intend to effectively work with Roger Federer’s brand to leverage growth, awareness and desirability. Below is an extract from the statement followed by my interpretation.
“We're in very early stages of discussing how best to align Rogers personal humanitarian interests, strengths and availability with our community programmes, while also exploring other ways we can innovate together in important areas like technology, education and sustainability”. - Uniqlo
1. align personal interests and strategic goals between your brand and its ambassador.
It’s important that a brands ambassador reflects similar, if not parallel values as the brand itself. The consumer market has grown aware of ambassador/ influencer marketing. Consumers now understand that brands are paying individuals to promote a product or service, with this increased awareness if ambassador marketing is not managed well it can be perceived as un-authentic. Understanding what your ambassadors long term and short term goals are will help you make better decisions when deciding the marketing approach, creating a relevant bond between the ambassadors brand and the company brand will increase the perception of authenticity and help decision makers curating tailored engagements that align the ambassador current and future market position with the company goals - this is when synergy is at its best.
2. Understand the strengths of your ambassador within the consumer market.
Essentially, an ambassadors role is to help a brand increase sales and help drive the brand message to new consumers. Understanding exactly what markets are drawn to the ambassador is key to setting the marketing strategy. There are key questions to be asked: Is the ambassador highly desirable toward Asian consumers compared to other markets?, are most of their audience following them on Instagram, Facebook or some other platform?, If they wear your product will anyone see it or are they more like radio hosts who are predominantly recognizable because of their voice.
All these details and more have to be understood early on as it will play a huge part in the development of the marketing strategy.
3. Produce and innovate together.
This is an area most brands neglect. Today’s consumers want to know that brand ambassadors who promote the products also stand by the product, to go further would be if brand ambassadors helped improve the product directly!. Take Uniqlo for instance, with the help of Roger Federer, the world's greatest tennis player you would think that they are in the best position to produce apparel tailored to enhance athlete performance, specifically in tennis. Innovating new technologies in collaboration with “industry pro’s” such as Roger offers western consumers greater value and incentive to buy into Uniqlo’s brand.
Ambassadors provide brands with a unique service. One which increases the brand perception within its category. The continued influence of personal brands (a consequence of social media) will result in more and more ambassador partnerships.