With a goal to double its business to $2 billion by 2023, Athleta is committed to its mission to empower women and girls to reach their limitless potential. Being culturally relevant to all generations of women is particularly important for the brand’s long term success. It’s why Athleta partnered with one of the greatest athletes in history, Simone Biles, to inspire the next generation of girls. In 2022, we leveraged two key moments — the launch of Simone’s first signature collection of activewear and Back to School — to connect the brand’s Athleta Girl line with the digitally savvy audience, and accelerate business growth.
Eighty percent of females ages 16-44 play video games, including platforms in the metaverse popular with girl gamers among Gen Alpha, and multiple studies found that gamers are eager to engage with their favorite brands in virtual environments — three out of four Gen Z consumers plan on spending money in the metaverse on digital fashion; two-thirds say they’re excited to wear brand name virtual items on Roblox, one of the fastest rising platforms and hugely popular with pre-teens and teens; and 87% of consumers believe the metaverse will play a big role in how they shop and interact with brands.
Athleta had a unique opportunity to bring the ‘Power of She’ into the metaverse, to drive relevance, loyalty, and engagement with the next generation.
To support the Simone Biles collection in the spring, PMG delivered a first for the brand by launching an integrated and kid-safe campaign on Roblox to connect with Gen Alpha. Much like how Simone’s collection featured styles that incorporate the inspiring affirmations she tells herself every day, Athleta’s virtual placements, including digital billboards integrated across multiple Roblox games, put those same inspirational messages in front of girl gamers to uplift and encourage them to chase their dreams. The girls also interacted with the brand via deep integrations in a Top 10 game, Livetopia, that included an Athleta Girl storefront where players could interact with an employee avatar and receive a Simone tote bag as a reward. The campaign was also supported by creator extensions across TikTok, YouTube Shorts, YouTube Gaming Creators, and age-safe video placements across YouTube.
In August, Athleta doubled down on the metaverse with a Back to School campaign that again featured a deep integration within Livetopia, and featured a Simone Biles avatar, custom obstacle course (‘obby’ in Roblox parlance), and a virtual storefront with 15 Athleta Girl outfits for players to collect and wear once they completed the course. Throughout the gamers’ experience, they saw motivational messages via a virtual billboard takeover.
The collection launch campaign produced more than 3.3MM engagements with the Athleta Girl avatar and gave away 718k Simone Biles tote bags, all while exceeding the impression target by 580%. The collaboration with influencers and creators resulted in 28 pieces of content that combined to deliver another 7 million views across TikTok and YouTube.
The Athleta Girl portal saw 5.7 million visits during the five-week BTS campaign, far outpacing what competitors achieved with their respective games. Overall, the metaverse integration achieved more than 400 million impressions, 12.3 million avatar interactions, 2.2 million obby starts (the obby completion rate was nearly 6X the benchmark), and 1 million clothing redemptions.
The brand calls the Athleta Girl line a “powerful growth driver and key contributor,” enabling Athleta to be one of the most critical performers among the Gap Inc. companies. According to a recent quarterly earnings call, Gap Inc. reported that Athleta posted sales increase of over 37% compared to pre-pandemic levels — despite recent consumer shifts from athleisure to occasion wear — reflecting the brand’s continued authority in the active and wellness category.
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