Earlier this week while browsing Letsrun.com during a study break a post caught my eye, one of the most well-known female marathon runners, Kara Goucher, had made the move from Nike to Oiselle.
I had no brand awareness of Oiselle until that moment. Within seconds of reading the post on Letsrun.com a new tab was opened and Oiselle was plugged into the search engine. Oiselle was founded by Sally Bergesen for the recreational runner’s market. From my quick skims over a few blogs, forum posts, and the company website, Oiselle is positioned toward affluent female recreational runners. The price point is similar to that of Lululemon and to my untrained eye the designs are relatively similar (but then it seems the majority of female workout clothing now sport the thick waistbands that Lululemon made so popular).
Many in the sponsorship industry argue that this is a space that is growing and has much potential but a recent article published in Canadian Running reported that brand sponsorship recognition is at a low with the 18-24 demographic. From the interest the Kara Goucher move generated, I believe if an athlete has a large fan base and close relationships with that fan base a story can make the sponsorship successful. Kara Goucher has just that from the love she has received from the RunnersWorld crowd and the obsessions of track fans (whether out of love or whatever strong reason Letsrun.com users feel).
When I read the Letsrun.com post on Goucher’s move to Oiselle the first question that popped into my mind wasn’t even the simple “Who is Oiselle?” but rather, “How many hits have the tagline of Oiselle + Kara Goucher gotten on Google?”. Whether Kara Goucher has already created brand resonance between her fans and Oiselle yet is not known but what is of certainty is that Kara Goucher has already increased the brand awareness of Oiselle in a multi-fold. The media launch day of the Kara Goucher to Oiselle move must have been an exciting day for Sally Bergesen, Kara Goucher, Lauren Fleshman, and the Oiselle website tech & social media team.