Japanese activewear brand Asics is partnering with DJ Steve Aoki to launch an advertising campaign called “I move me” as part of a concerted effort to upgrade its reputation with US consumers, which also includes opening new stores in stylish New York neighborhoods. However, L2 research suggests that the sneaker brand may find it difficult to change its image.

Asics is popular with runners, owning five of the top six Amazon Best Sellers in the women’s running shoes category. But the sneakers have yet to catch on with more casual shoppers. While one in three runners in the New York City Marathon wear the brand’s sneakers, less than 2% of teens say it’s one of their favorite brands. In comparison, nearly half say Nike is their favorite footwear maker, followed by Vans, adidas, and Converse.

Real estate

This creates a self-perpetuating cycle: those popular brands show up more frequently on product searches, helping them maintain their popularity, while other brands fall to the bottom of the list and the back of consumers’ minds. Nike appears on the first page of search results for 69% of Performance Footwear-related keywords; Asics scores first-page hits for just a fifth of those terms, according to L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear. The study goes on to label Nike as a digital Genius, while Asics is relegated to the Average category.

Asics America CEO Gene McCarthy is hopeful that Aoki can boost the brand’s reputation, citing the DJ’s sporty image.

“[Aoki] may be more fit and more athletic than the actual athletes we have relationships with,” McCarthy told Business Insider.

However, unless he can also help Asics increase the visibility of its products on specific keyword searches, the DJ’s effectiveness as a marketing strategy might be limited.

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