Woolmark: bridging the gap between sport and fashion

We’ve kicked off a three year campaign from We Are Social and our in-house production division We Are Social Studios for the Woolmark Company called ‘The Added Element’. The work targets outdoorsy millennial and Gen Z fashion lovers to bridge the sports gap with a fashion-friendly creative edge. In this post, Editor Anna Flockett explains how the campaign reflects the shifting identities and audience behaviour of Gen Z sports fans.

As Gen Z audience behaviour continues to evolve at the same fast pace of social media, it has made one thing abundantly clear for sports brands; fans and athletes are venturing beyond the boundaries of the category.

This was highlighted as one of the key trends in the Think Forward: Sports Edition 2023 report. Just as we’re seeing Gen Z sports fans want to expand on their identities and interests across social platforms, we are also seeing much more crossover in cultures and industries. Younger generations now are trading rigidity for flexibility when it comes to identity. They are showing more willingness to experimenting with interests and being fluid in their personalities.

We are witnessing Gen Z bridge the worlds of fashion and sport frequently on social, as these are arguably two very compatible industries. For instance, Olympic diver Tom Daley expressing his love for knitting and breaking into that world on TikTok is just one example of an athlete rebelling against stereotypes, and showing the younger generation that it is okay to have interests that go against the grain. Therefore, it is important for brands to find new ways to engage with the next generation, or freshen things up for their current audience, through unprecedented partnerships, identity play and new collaborations. 

This is why in our recent campaign with Woolmark, ‘The Added Element’, we positioned Merino Wool as the ultimate performance fibre in the sporting world, in a way that appealed to an audience with fluid identities. In activating Woolmark’s iconic partnership with the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailing team, we explored cross-platform storytelling from Fashion Weeks to social hero films. 

Previously, it had always been a challenge for Woolmark to crossover into a sports industry and appeal to a sport-first audience. Being a fashion brand renowned for providing warmth through trendy wool, its audience was not typically made up of athletes, and in the past they had lost followers on social media when showing up in the sports space.

We constructed the first part of this three-year campaign in a way that appealed to both fashion-first and sport-first audiences. We combined the iconic red of Prada in a subtle way to symbolise high-end elements of fashion, whilst creating a fast-paced film of the Italian sailing team performing a number of sporting activities including running, cycling, and sailing. Showing the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team in training for one of the most prestigious sailing events in the world, the 37th America’s Cup. This meant the style of our content would appeal to audiences who straddled both fashion and sport worlds.

With a target audience of both outdoorsy millennial and Gen Z fashion lovers, and those in the luxury sport and fashion industry, this campaign was designed to highlight not only the technical performance properties of Merino wool but also its strong sustainable fashion credentials. We bridged the sports gap for Woolmark with a fashion-friendly creative edge. Using innovative camera shots and visuals to show how the properties of this traditionally fashion-perceived material can be aligned to other communities and identities, the creative edit also showcased how these two worlds have natural crossovers and can complement each other. 

To really land this campaign with the vision of sports meets fashion, the campaign hero film was unveiled and showcased at Milan Fashion Week 2023, one of the biggest moments in the fashion calendar. Imagine, taking one of the most famous fashion weeks in the world and launching a social campaign about sport. Yes, it was a bold move, but one that paid off as it really pushed past what was expected, and reflected the fact that a modern audience doesn’t see traditional boundaries of identity.

It also reflected another key theme highlighted in Think Forward: Sports Edition – how storytelling is no longer linear or follows established structures. Social is a crowded space and consumers want to see content that hasn’t been done before. And stories told in a way they haven’t been told before. Brands need to think big, and think outside the box. Showcasing Woolmark’s ‘The Added Element’ campaign at a fashion week alongside social helped us land the brand’s sport and cultural credibility at scale.

Find the full Think Forward: Sports Edition report here.