Campaign: The French apparel brand Domyos, which specializes in gear for fitness, dance, martial arts and contact sports, made a colorful splash when it entered China in 2013. The brand, owned by sports retail chain Decathlon, wanted to blend Eastern and Western cultures as opposed to engaging in an East versus West battle.
Through agency Fred & Farid in Shanghai, Domyos created Tai-CHip-Hop, a new sport that fuses Western hip hop moves with tai chi, the most popular form of exercise in China. The brand launched an online video featuring one woman practicing tai chi and the other pulling hip hop shapes. Their moves then merged to create Tai-Chip-Hop. The film attracted more than 100 million views.
Domyos then invited dance teams to do their own Tai-CHip-Hop routines as well as enlisting five schools in a themed dance-off this past July. The event attracted a 15,000-strong audience and was broadcast on national TV channels. Throughout the rest of the summer, the dance teams toured China’s five biggest cities –Chengdu, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai—to introduce the new brand in outlets of Decathlon, its parent company.
Domyos sales rose by 80 percent and ideas for new product development were generated. Tai-Chip-Hop classes started to appear on the schedules of Chinese gyms.
Contagious, FleishmanHillard’s Childs Weigh In
Contagious: A PR and content-led push means that Domyos stands out from the crowd from the get-go. Other fitness apparel brands have implemented branded fitness experiences: Nike via a partnership with Virgin Active gyms in the U.K. and Reebok via its CrossFit classes. But the approach here by Domyos sets it up as original, energetic and entertaining.
Of course, over the long-term, this gives the brand some rich territory to explore. It’s already ventured into TV content with the broadcast of the live event. Could this potentially become an annual televised event? What’s more, there’s the potential for Domyos to investigate partnerships with motion-controlled gaming consoles, like Xbox or Nintendo Wii, or train up specialist Tai-CHip-Hop instructors to work in gyms.
Dance crazes, such as Zumba, have shown the obvious appetite for new ways to keep fit and have fun: Approximately 14 million people take weekly Zumba classes in over 140,000 locations across more than 150 countries. By making Tai-Chip-Hop synonymous with its brand, Domyos has been more successful in establishing itself and generating sales than traditional advertising alone could have achieved.
Nick Childs: Once upon a time a new brand’s goal was simply to launch and create consumer awareness. Then, our hyper-connected world brought a target of consumer engagement. Now, even that isn’t enough. As this campaign clearly shows, the current aim for clients, and their agencies, is not only to build those connections with the audience, but also to create a sense of shared purpose. And that’s exactly where Domyos succeeded here—on many different fronts—by borrowing on a cultural phenomena that is both a global concern and a personal passion for many: fitness. Even better, they understood that using dance and movement as a means to exercise is a familiar proposal that stretches across generations, gender and racial divides.
While the basic theme here of mixing cultures to produce something new isn’t totally original, you can’t argue against the success of 40 million views for the videos, 3,590 mentions on Weibo in three-hours, a 94.5 percent increase in fan base, and an 80 percent rise in sales. In fact, it’s Domyos’ clever (re)interpretation of a familiar theme that made it a win. By remixing already popular genres, they created the next exercise sensation and offered up a new twist to gym classes no doubt suffering a Zumba overload.
For a company somewhat unknown in the fitness apparel world of megabrands like Nike and Under Armour, the “Tai-CHip-Hop” may prove to be a big, breakthrough idea for a relatively small French company.