Just what that storytelling constituted, and what platforms were best to expound it depended on who was speaking, so for Gary Aspden, who arguably invented entertainment marketing and reinvigorated Adidas in the 90s by connecting the footwear brand with Britpop musicians and the club scene, it began internally within the company itself.
“The battle with big companies, a lot of the time, is not just the external battle, it’s the internal battle, and so a lot of what I did was about educating people internally, educating people who come from a very different set of reference points than I came from personally,” he said. He added that mass-production and mass-marketing had changed the landscape radically since Oasis and the Spice Girls first donned Adidas, meaning the future for true brand connections lay in tapping into micro cultures and tribes. To this end, Aspden launched the (highly successful) line Spezial in 2013 based on the Adidas archives and tuned specifically to the revival of the UK’s “casual” culture of the late 70s and early 80s. “Adidas was trying to sell some of their globally successful third party collaborations in the UK and they weren’t working,” said Aspden. “I said ‘look there’s a culture that’s very localised that we should try and tap into instead.’”
That idea of focusing on one thing, rather than trying to be everything to everyone, is employed by Sydney fashion house Song for the Mute, which has presented collections in Paris since 2010 and has over 50 stockists worldwide. “Every season we create our own fabrics and we create stories around these fabrics,” says Song for the Mute co-founder Melvin Tanaya. He shared the way his brand used communication platform WeChat to amplify those stories on the Chinese social media behemoth, discussing all manner of topics from food to music to foster connections with customers. “It has evolved to storytelling and community-building,” says Tanaya. “It deepens the value of the garments that they [customers] eventually will be investing in.”