Today’s guest RepMan is by Peppercommer Nicole Newby.
Supermodels are synonymous with the fashion world’s vision of perfection. So I was a little surprised at the irony when Reebok recently appointed Gigi Hadid, one of today’s most recognizable models, as one of the faces of its Perfect Never campaign.
This is not a post about Gigi’s physical appearance or what she does outside of the spotlight to maintain that physique. In fact, since she became a face for the brand, I’ve been reading several articles about her athletic background and affinity for boxing. And I have to say, I’m impressed.
All of that aside, this is about brand image—both for Gigi and Reebok. At first glance, it seems like this is a very clever move from Gigi’s management team to make her more relatable and human. But that’s not what her career is based on. Her public image, which has tied her face to high-end names like Versace, Stuart Weitzman and Tom Ford, is built and relies on her having the perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect outfit, perfect figure…
Since Reebok rebranded a few years ago and through strategic partnerships with Spartan Race, UFC and CrossFit, the brand has built a strong foundation of supporters who embody a tough fitness mentality. A career supermodel is not someone with whom they would have a lot in common on the surface.
I understand Reebok’s intention. Gigi works hard behind the scenes, and she undoubtedly has her own insecurities and story to tell. But consumers today are smart and value brand authenticity. The comments on Reebok’s Facebook posts featuring Gigi give direct insight into the audience’s disappointment here. There is a fine line between a campaign that intrigues the audience to want to learn “why” and one that just doesn’t initially make sense at first glance.
Ronda Rousey was a previous icon for the campaign, aptly following her first-ever loss in the UFC fight that cost her the championship belt, shattered her perfect record and knocked her off her invincibility pedestal. She became more human, and Reebok’s campaign exonerated that. These ads exuded a raw intensity and authenticity that made them memorable—and consumers were able to relate and rally behind the message of “being perfect isn’t as powerful as being human.”
With some digging, consumers may learn that the message is still authentic with Gigi, but on the surface it looks like Reebok is just conforming to the same mold as every other fashion brand. And with a target audience of athletes who are vocal about embracing imperfections, this marketing decision isn’t a knockout.