The Björn Borg trademark was registered in the late 1980s and established in the Swedish fashion market in the first half of the 1990s. Since then, operations have grown strongly, including through new product areas and geographical markets.
The brand stands increasesingly on its own merits, distinct from Björn Borg the person, and a growing share of consumers associate the name with the brand’s products rather than Björn Borg himself. At the same time, Björn Borg’s legacy as a tennis player and his celebrity status off the court is the brand’s heritage and still provides a strong platform for international expansion.
Today, the brand has a distinctive identity and a strong position in established markets in its dominant product area, underwear, while newer markets are in a start-up stage. In its business plan, Björn Borg has an explicit goal to be a leader in sports fashion, and has therefore decided to focus on design and production of sports apparel.
With five product areas and sales in around 20 markets – mature as well as new and with different conditions and preferences – consistent, long-term branding is essential.
A new design, branding and communication platform, together with a new tagline, were developed and introduced in 2015. The positioning reflects the brand’s sporty identity and products that make customers feel active and attractive.
Björn Borg aims to provide the best possible service to its distributors and licensees, which commit to a specific level of investment in their markets. The aim is to create opportunities to build sales and brand awareness, while at the same time ensuring consistent branding.
Support for distributors and licensees includes branding guidelines and marketing support for ad campaigns, PR activities, media buying and Point of Sale displays – packaged for each market’s needs, stage of development and budget.
The Björn Borg brand is profiled through innovative marketing activities. The strategy is to build the brand and drive sales consistently over the long term. To achieve cost efficiency and broad impact, the Group focuses on integrated campaigns and activities mainly in spreadable channels such as PR, events and digital media, but also trade shows, fashion shows and Point of Sale displays.
Outdoor advertising and print ads are primarily used in established markets, usually through targeted activities in urban areas. The aim going forward is to focus on bigger campaigns with broader coverage in more channels to achieve greater impact.
PR activities and events are important components in the mix of channels used in Björn Borg’s integrated campaigns. Background material and guidelines are produced centrally as part of the marketing packages distributors have access to, while detailed planning and implementation are left to each market.
Social media have continued to grow in importance to the interaction between Björn Borg and consumers- The company sees these channels as both vital and cost-effective for branding and sales promotions.
Through the web shop at bjornborg.com, Björn Borg products are sold practically around the world. The website is also a key channel for international branding and to communicate with target groups.
The Björn Borg stores fill an important role as a marketing channel and to display the brand and current campaigns.
Campaigns, collaborations and events 2016
During the year, Björn Borg continued to position itself in sports and fashion through three main activities.
Design Partnership with Craig Green
On opening night of Stockholm Fashion Week in January Björn Borg announced a design collaboration with successful British designer Craig Green. International media and opinion leaders were treated to a presentation at Wetterling Gallery in Stockholm of a futuristic sportswear collection for both women and men. The week’s highpoint, it generated tremendous PR for Björn Borg in fashion heavyweights such as Vogue, iD, VMan and Sportswear International. The collection paved the way for new international distribution for Björn Borg in NYC, London, Paris, Berlin and Tokyo.
Change your game with Performance Underwear
In 2016 Björn Borg focused on establishing a new sports focused product line, Performance Underwear. A campaign was launched in all major markets with the tagline “Don’t run in Cotton.” Björn Borg launched a wide-ranging campaign with key customers to maximize sell-through and awareness. Sales of over 180,000 products were generated during the year, and the campaign had a big impact in Björn Borg’s major markets. Prior to launch, Björn Borg conducted thousands of consumer tests, where the product received the highest rating and was recommended by over 90 percent of testers.
Marketing Capsule Collection
Björn Borg used flash collections as a marketing strategy in 2016 to generate PR and pave the way for new distribution. In January it released Sport Couture, a collection that paid homage to the Mars One space initiative. All pieces were numbered and sold only online. Sport Couture garnered attention from the international media and was shown on the front page of T magazine in the New York Times.
In March, on the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Björn Borg released the Skin Collection, an underwear collection in “nudes” for all skin tones. Traditionally “nude” underwear is only available in light beige. The initiative received a lot of attention for the stand it took and won a gold medal in the Cannes Lions.
To celebrate Björn Borg’s 60th birthday in June the brand also released a tennis collection all in white with the logical name the Achromatic Collection, which generated attention in international tennis and lifestyle media.