Deepashree Banerjee

When ads became fitness videos...

Of late, there has been a flood of fitness-related imagery in Indian ads - sportswear and others. How does one stand out amidst similar looking visuals?

Today's popular sportswear brands were present yesterday too and a few decades before as well. But today, popular names like Reebok, Adidas, Nike, and Puma are leading the way when it comes to marketing their products by creating perfect hype with every new launch. How do they do it? It's not just because they understand and speak the language of the millennials well, but it's also because they seek to empower and encourage all consumers to start their fitness journeys.

Encouraging women with body-positive messages

Another factor that has brought significant changes to the old ways of marketing, especially to women in the sportswear industry, is the fact that women's approach to sports today, is far more evolved that ever before. Hence, marketing departments at major sportswear companies are compelled to pay attention to these ripples in consumer sentiments.

When ads became fitness videos...

adidas Originals has announced the latest drop of the brand’s iconic and influential silhouette "Samba" featuring India brand ambassador Ranveer Singh

Another common thread is that today's sportswear adverts directed at women, pledge for them to treat their bodies and minds better; with the kindness and care they deserve, but by featuring rigorous training shots of women giving it their all.

Empowering the consumer

Sportswear brands have been making noticeable efforts to empower their customers in this way in recent times. Most of their ads seem to be more akin to short fitness tutorials as opposed to the more status quo 'showing off the product as much as possible'. The videos are about the experience first and the features second.

When ads became fitness videos...

Reebok India tells the world 'Bruises Can Be Good' through this social experiment

Reebok India released a thought-provoking campaign - #BruisesCanBeGood - on International Women's Day. It doubled up as a social experiment that makes a compelling statement on societal insights while simultaneously showcasing how the women of today are far stronger than one might give them credit for. It also aims to establish the need for self-defence education from a young age in curricula while teaching women that they can be - #FitToFight.

When ads became fitness videos...

Featuring actress Kangana Ranaut, the campaign titled #FitToFight showcases how fitness helps tackle the varied challenges imposed on her

Collaborating with influencers

HRX predominantly produces gym and casual wear that's priced competitively for the Indian consumer and appeals to the Indian audience through Hrithik Roshan's popularity and well-known identity as a fitness enthusiast. Thus, the latest ads tend to showcase the star in some form of training montage, thereby depicting how the products can prove useful while highlighting how important it is to stay fit and look it as well.

When ads became fitness videos...

Global sportswear brand PUMA has launched the campaign by releasing a short film featuring Disha Patani and Bani J

Adidas, has been adding more versatile, multi-sport female athletes to their rosters. These powerful women of sports are more than just "hardcore" competitive sports stars and serve as a source of inspirations to both men and women all over. The ads that feature them aim to encourage consumers to get up and start training.

When ads became fitness videos...

Fashioned around the theme of #StandStrong, Women's Horlicks, has introduced their latest campaign featuring the new face of the brand, Taapsee Pannu

Here's a deeper look, through the eyes of professionals, at how today's sportswear ads are created and made to inspire, empower and still entice consumers to act, be it to buy a product or take up a challenge.

When ads became fitness videos...

In a mission to create a fitter nation, sportstar Virat Kohli along with Puma recently gave the impetus to the Come Out and Play (COAP) movement

When ads became fitness videos...

Come Out And Play is a movement initiated last year in November during the launch of Virat's brand One8, in order to bring about a cultural change of fitness in the country

Kailash Surendranath, ad filmmaker and founder of the film production company Kailash Picture Company, says, "These are truly effective and watchable! Cinematically, they are beautiful. Ideas are well conceived, especially Virat's Come Out and Play (COAP) campaign which is short and to the point and easily watchable across all media, including digital. The length of each is perfect for frequency. The Reebok and Adidas Originals films are definitely inspiring in terms of fitness. And the fitness is visually apparent and very credible."

When ads became fitness videos...

Reebok brand ambassador Shahid Kapoor redefines fitness in new campaign

When ads became fitness videos...

Shahid Kapoor seen hammering his way through in the new campaign

"More than moving, I believe these are motivating for young people in particular. In today's times, everybody aspires to fitness. I feel these icons can break the inertia and create action. But brand memorability remains a problem," feels the veteran filmmaker.

When ads became fitness videos...

The COAP Play Wagon which travelled around the city with surprise pit stops to set up play areas where people could come out and play a game

"Branding is subtle in the ads and can get confusing in the minds of the viewer; otherwise they are perfectly executed communications. But this for the client, is possibly the only drawback."

When ads became fitness videos...

The sportswear brand also rolled out a social media campaign, spot the van and play a sport, which bestows participants an opportunity to be featured on Virat's Instagram handle on posting a videopic
Click on the image to enlarge

Surendranath continues, "Ranveer is taken seriously for once which is a pleasant change. He plays on the current popularity of soccer and that itself, is a winning idea. "In order to make these ads work, first one needs to see the right icon endorsing them; one needs to see fitness that is achievable and not superhuman and understand that sports accessories are also a fashion statement and need to be shot in all their beauty and glory."

When ads became fitness videos...

FENTY PUMA by Rihanna

He opens up on the technical nitty-gritty as well, "Lighting and camera styles seem to be dramatic and similar across all these ads, but are well suited to tell the stories. So as to avoid clichés and confusion, the brand will have to choose their own identity and positioning strongly."

When ads became fitness videos...

The ‘ASICS Blackout Track’ was developed in collaboration with sports scientists and top coaches to remove all distractions and encourage runners to truly focus on synchronising the mind and body

When ads became fitness videos...

Kailash Surendranath

When ads became fitness videos...

Veneet Bagga

This spate of fitness ads, though inspiring, may lead to a size-zero syndrome where the bodies and physiques shown are getting too impossible to achieve. It might be a pleasant change to show an average looking individual making an effort, gaining stamina and other such feasible goals, for the average or older individual," Surendranath signs off.

"The good and bad part is there aren't many do's and don'ts in a creative execution of this kind," says Veneet Bagga, an ad film director, founder and creative head, Onions Creative Media.

"To me, it's about energy and realism - two factors that play catalysts for inspiration. So, 'rugged', 'raw' and 'unpolished' are also welcome if the script demands it. The core idea is to inspire and make the story believable which are derived from the amount of truth in a frame. Therefore, sometimes, even a raw or "imperfect" dialogue delivered by a star like Virat, is retained because that very imperfection becomes that much more inspirational as we get to witness star performers as regular people with imperfections achieving perfection. Having said that, the most important 'do' in my books, would be to make even a candid shot look cinematic."

The usage of more 'moving shots' than usual, always add to the energy and candid feel of the film, making it that much more believable, Bagga explains. "They look like perfectly timed shots where the camera was at the right place at the right time and the result was perfect movement. I'm not discounting the chances of that happening, but more often than not, the director creates that sense of candidness using lit-up, pre-planned resources, therefore, achieving both a cinematic look (that planning can afford) and a realistic and energetic visual (which cues candidness). To me, this style is as fascinating as it is powerful. I call it the hyper-real style where the director masterfully combines cinematic brilliance with candid, fast moving and real looking visuals," says Bagga.

Bagga also decodes the recent trend of the fitness wave that's apparently gripped Indians, "This is a great new way of looking at things for Indian Advertising. If you look at the European way of filmmaking or even that of the Thai or Japanese, you'll realise this is not a new occurrence. It's a tried and tested method of making people believe in the grime of the story. The fact that we as an industry, have started using the moving shot and creating stories that are raw, beautiful and believable, is refreshing and certainly more in sync with today's sensibilities."

"From the director's POV, the most important question is where do you place the camera. I feel it's exactly the same for the writer - where does he/she see the situation from. Perspective. That's what makes all the difference. Basis that, insight, idea, execution, and the synchronicity between these elements, will make the ideas stand out. And, of course, where the director takes it, is the leftover 20 per cent which can become a much larger percentage if done right. What stands out these days is a campaign that reaches a 200 per cent," Bagga winds up.

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