Oakley taps into skate fanaticism in experiential campaign

By Alison Lowe | 9 November 2015
Photographer Atiba Jefferson (left) and friends help launch Oakley in Residence: Sydney.

Global lifestyle brand Oakley is taking up temporary residence in Sydney in a move which it says represents the brand “just scratching the surface” of its new experiential marketing push.

Coinciding with the launch of a new model of sunglasses in the Australian market, Oakley has established The Oakley in Residence: Sydney One Obsession brand hub, a community space which will host photography and screen-printing workshops, skate photography exhibitions, athlete meet-ups, skate sessions and film screenings.

Speaking with AdNews, Oakley's global brand communications director, Tom Cartmale, said the idea came about because the brand was keen to engage with the fantacism that is typical within the action sports communities.

“It is a kind of engagement platform. We really wanted to take the brand into the city into key spaces and neighbourhoods in priority cities, particularly around certain sports that have always been important to Oakley - skate and cycling – and really start to explore those communities around those sports.

“We're really known for performance sports and elite sports, and around action sports, surf, skate, cycling, and BMX, and particularly skate and cycling have a really passionate and almost fanatical participants that really live and breathe those sports. So its kind of enabled the brand to explore different facets around those communities whether it be through art, design, photography or film.”

The global brand communications director said the beauty of the One Obsession campaign and its Oakley in Residence manifestation is that it represents the first time the brand has created a platform that can be adapted to different sports and cities, but which brings with it a “consistency and fluidity of experience”.

“We like that, in terms of the aesthetic. It's the first time we've created a unified global event platform that has longevity; we can take it into other markets, in summer, winter. It's year one so we're only really scratching the surface,” he said.

Asked where this experiential marketing event fits into Oakley's overall marketing strategy in Australia, Cartmale said: “I think this is where it starts and I think this is obviously the launch of the product and us telling the story behind it ... There'll be a huge amount of engagement and also content creation and I really think that even though this is for a certain period of time, what happens in the space, the content generated, will fuel a lot of Oakley's activities, our web and social activity, over coming months.”

The establishment of the Sydney hub comes in the wake of Oakley in Residence hubs in LA and London, which ran for two and a half weeks and six months, respectively.

Cartmale credits Oakleys partners in the form of the athletes, photographers and local creators, who helped to design and program the London and LA hubs and events, with making them a success.

“We hand over the keys to a lot of our partners who use it for their own purposes. We've been really pleased with the footfall, the attendance to the workshops has been sold out; more so than masses of people, it's really been about the right sort of people coming to experience it,” Cartmale said.

Now is the “perfect time”, he said, to be setting up in Sydney. As the city heads into summer, the company will simultaneously launch a new product, a new model of sunglasses designed collaboratively by a group of skateboarders.

“It's really nice how it's playing out - they're taking what we started in LA earlier in the year and wrapping around this product that's going to be a big part of Oakley's push in Sydney, using the workshops to tell this story of design collaboration.”

One Obsession and Oakley in Residence represents a chance for the brand to focus on one side of its personality – lifestyle, youth and culture. With the Olympics approaching next year, Cartmale said there will be a shift in its marketing emphasis towards technology and performance.

“We're always trying to find that balance. Both sides of the brand resonate with our different consumers, we just have to continue to balance two things going into next year,” he explained.

Oakley in Residence: Sydney opened on Wednesday night at 74 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills and runs from 5-29 November.

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