Over the past few months, Outcreate has been working under NDA with INOV-8, on a top-secret launch of a new trail running shoe – Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max.

But it wasn’t without its challenges for the entire team. The launch was done entirely under lockdown. Of the many things we learned during these months, here are our top five.

TALKING LESS, LISTENING MORE HELP UNDERSTAND THE INOV-8 TRAILFLY

As a creative and strategic business, OUTCREATE has over 20 years’ experience of handing client’s advertising, marketing and brand problems. It’s easy to think you’re the expert and have all the answers.

So, we park that mindset at the door before we start anything, because every job, is different and every job has its variables.

Launching a trail running shoe is similar to launching a car for instance, but the markets and the mindsets of the audience are vastly different.

The initial conversations we had with INOV-8 were truly fascinating. It was a real journey and they absolutely loved telling their story of how the brand got to this point, what the pitfalls had been, what their hopes were, and what made their brand and the product they wanted to launch, different.

All of this is key context. Every word spoken mattered. So, in the first couple of meetings, listening to what is being said and asked is far more important than talking.

The client is bringing you up-to-speed, immersing you in the detail which they feel is of the utmost importance. Listening helped understand that the Inov-8 TrailFly was much more than just another shoe launch, this was an announcement to the world that they had created a first-of-its-kind material (GFly graphene foam cushioning) which they had developed in partnership with the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester.

Trail. Blazing. - The Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max

GO TO THE SOURCE OF THE INOV-8 TRAILFLY

When you talk to marketers, you get a marketer’s perspective. Most clients have a pretty good understanding of what’s needed, they come to businesses such OUTCREATE for the extra diligence around audiences and media, as well as those all-important creative ideas and executions.

What we like to do is get perspectives from elsewhere. In this instance we spoke with the man who had spent countless hours designing the Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max.

The design process is incredibly important in any product and what you get is a different level of respect and understanding for the craft and consideration instilled in the research and development stage.

Why did this shoe have a 6mm drop? Why that material for the upper? How does the patent-pending adapterflex groove help the runner’s physiology? The designer had the answers to problems we had no idea existed from a consumer’s perspective.

Some of his answers were very business focused too. Material weights for example…bump up the cost of transportation, so they find smarter and lighter ways to reinforce the shoe’s integrity.

Geeking out on this stuff not only gives you a new level of respect and understanding, but it also helps way down the line when you’re writing ads, scripts, content and copy.

Image courtesy of Luke McConnie - Snr Inov-8 Footwear Designer

KEEP AMBITION HIGH

Presenting your first round of ideas is both exciting and nerve-racking in equal measure. Both sides don’t know what to expect. Will they laugh? Will it be on brief? Have we gone far enough…or perhaps too far?

OUTCREATE have always been about showcasing something different, with real ambition to show the clients not only what you’re capable of as a business, but also show them where their brand can go.

It’s easy for a client to stay in a comfort zone, but it is also easy for an outside agency to come along and get it hideously wrong.

So the first few meetings sharing work are always a bit of dance, but they’re amazingly constructive and you soon get a sense of where the work should and could go.

What I love about working with INOV-8 is the democratic way they judge the work. They are a tight team and everyone gets to speak. The last person to do so is most senior person, who is insistent that everyone reviews the work as if it were being seen cold…and not explained by someone trying to sell it to you. Smart thinking.

Naturally many ideas die. We only need one after all. But ultimately where we get to can’t be a compromise, the place we end up has to move the brand forward, so regardless of time, and budget, the work has to be ambitious.

An OUTCREATE scamp from one of the early storyboard ideas

THINK AROUND THE INOV-8 TRAILFLY LAUNCH

We’re in lockdown. We’re all in different locations. INOV-8 are in the Lake District, and OUTCREATE is in Brighton, we couldn’t be further from them if we tried.

But that didn’t matter. Sure, being face-to-face on location is preferred, but with Zoom & Teams, and sticking to scheduled meetings, things move along at pace as long as everyone is clear.

But on this project, the biggest hurdle was the Press Launch. This is where all the big retailers, ShoeTubers, the running and outdoor journalists all get to see and hear about the Inov-8 TrailFly most importantly, get to understand the new technology within it and how it will change the game for the customers.

Normally, this would be done at a venue, live. But thanks to Covid, the whole launch event was made virtual. None of the team had done a virtual presentation before, so finding the right partner to help was key.

On the day, the presentation went perfectly, without a hitch. So well, in fact that what was at first thought of as a problem, soon opened up new possibilities for future presentations to wider markets.

Screen shot from the virtual press launch
Wayne Edy - Inov-8 Founder - Speaking at the virtual Launch Event

CUT CORNERS, NOT QUALITY

INOV-8, as their name suggests, like to do things differently. But the outcome has always got to be the best. It’s one of the reasons the team there is light and nimble and they partner with businesses such as OUTCREATE, because we fit that ethos.

I think it’s something routed in trail and fell running itself. Often there isn’t a clear path to get to where you want. Sometimes, you’ve got to go through the rough terrain, get dirty, fall over, get back up again, and take some calculated risks.

Your typical big network agency, with proprietary processes, timesheets, internal sign-offs and much higher rates will have found themselves floundering at the pace and the demands being asked of it. The corners we cut were in places we knew we’d make up time, save money, get a better result, and everyone on the team knew they had the support of the others.

The Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max is now available to buy as of today, so I guess we’ve crossed a sort of finish line. We’re all confident that this shoe, engineered with trailblazing technology, will not only defy the limits of ultra-long trail runs and races, it will defy INOV-8’s sales expectations too.

The finished launch film - Shot by James Appleton

Case study coming to the OUTCREATE website soon.

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Rob Steeles is the founder and creative director of OUTCREATE - the creative marketing agency for sports, active and outdoor brands.

outcreate.io / hello@outcreate.io / +44 (0)7952 539 205

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