Using promotion to position a brand
A Hi-Tec Sports case study

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Page 5: Liquid Mountaineering - a viral marketing campaign

Man running on water in Hi-Tec promotionA key part of Hi-Tec's brand positioning has been the development of a viral marketing campaign called Liquid Mountaineering. This campaign was inspired by the water-repellent qualities of Hi-Tec shoes.

It was devised to reflect Hi-Tec's 'inspired by life' brand proposition and the brand repositioning strategy. It aims to create a sense of adventure and push back physical boundaries. At the centre of the campaign is a video commissioned by Hi-Tec which went live on YouTube in May 2010. This video 'documentary' shows three men apparently running on water. They achieve this miraculous feat thanks to their water-repellent shoes.

The message

The Liquid Mountaineering campaign does not follow the usual forms of advertising and promotion. Hi-Tec wanted to emphasise the spirit of 'fun' in its brand. The video is therefore a piece of pure entertainment:

  • Although the video is based around Hi-Tec's 'hydrophobic' footwear, it does not mention the brand directly. The documentary style and semi-scientific approach to 'running on water' aims to get consumers talking and thinking about the brand differently.
  • To add realism, one of the video participants set up a blog the previous year . This 'back story' created excitement in the build-up to the event.

The medium

In launching the campaign, Hi-Tec recognised the massive power of the internet. It chose to host the video on YouTube. This was because this website has a good fit with both the attitude of the video (youthful and fun) and the target audience (prospective consumers). The fact that there was no mention of the Hi-Tec brand meant it was not perceived as a sales message.

The impact

It caught the imagination of millions of people in an incredibly short space of time as viewers emailed or tweeted their friends about the video. There have been press articles and interviews on TV shows. Some people wrote blogs about the video. Others even set up groups to try the 'running on water' sport for themselves.

The exchange of messages on sites like Facebook and Twitter gave extra impetus to the swell of viewing numbers. Having gathered impressive viewing figures in just two weeks, Hi-Tec was able to extend interest in the promotion with a new set of promotional activities:

  • It put out a press release in which it explained the hoax and claimed ownership of the video.
  • Hi-Tec also hosted a video on its website showing how the Liquid Mountaineering video was made.
  • The symbol Hi-Tec uses for its ion-mask™ technology shows a man running on water, linking the video messages with the real technology.
  • The Hi-Tec website links directly to an online shop for the shoes.

Hi-Tec walking shoeMeasuring achievement

To date (November 2010), the video has attracted more than 7.5 million viewers. It has been heavily featured in the press, including The Sun, Daily Star, and The Guardian, as well as on television channels around the world, including Rude Tube. This has opened up the Hi-Tec brand to a worldwide audience. Hi-Tec has also received very positive feedback on the campaign from trade organisations. This has boosted awareness and reinforced the fun element of the Hi-Tec brand.

As a marketing process, the video has been extremely cost effective. Hi-Tec has received a good return on the investment it put into making the video. The company estimates that the Liquid Mountaineering viral marketing campaign has given a return worth 10 times the initial investment. The average return on marketing investment is usually only around four times. This indicates how effective Liquid Mountaineering has been in helping to position the Hi-Tec brand with prospective consumers.

The ongoing marketing campaign for 'shoes that love water' will encourage consumers to consider buying Hi-Tec products. Watch the video for yourself by typing 'Liquid Mountaineering' into Google or YouTube.

Hi-Tec Sports | Using promotion to position a brand