This month we’re reflecting on an exciting 2023 and looking forward to 2024, where we’ll return with regular insights, highlights and opinion from the Aspire team as we continue on our mission to unlock movement.
Since our launch in 2010 we’ve been on a mission to make movement work for everybody. This year we have taken on new clients in new markets for us, while also going deep with our existing brands, connecting with core fans and broadening our brands’ appeal to access new audiences, all through a mix of creativity, collaboration and an authentic love for movement.
We continue to work closely with two of our original clients, motive8 and On, something that we’re extremely proud of. Organisations evolve over time, so working closely together with long term clients to meet their changing objectives is something we always prioritise. In this business, relationships matter!
It’s been quite a ride with On, as the brand has evolved from a favourite start-up of committed runners to become a true fashion icon. While a lot of the brand’s success is the result of 12 years of commitment, consistency and collaboration, the recent acceleration can be traced back to 2020. “When everything was locked down they continued to invest in the market with activations and keeping their community engaged,” says Aspire Account Manager Sam Begg. “It says a lot for that period of time,” recalls Aspire’s founder Layla Smith. “The ones that chose to invest are continuing to grow and disrupt.” As an agency that has community at its core, Aspire played an early role in introducing On to the UK market, and as they’ve grown, we’ve been instrumental in keeping the brand in consumers’ hearts and minds.
In 2023 we supported On as the brand opened two London stores, first on Regent Street in February, and then in November, in Spitalfields. Our work with On is a case study in the power of genuine, long-term partnerships and the Aspire team secured a compelling variety of media coverage for both store openings. On the community front, we collaborated on a launch event that saw hundreds of select guests come together to celebrate and discover these incredible new spaces, showcasing On and its commitment to London as a cultural and sporting capital.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to work with On over the years, so to have the opportunity to help them launch two new stores and really show their commitment to the city was amazing.”
“I joined Aspire at the same time as Thule became a client. It’s brilliant to be working with such a pioneering brand across adventuring, urban life and the outdoors – their product design is unmatched.”
Thule is a brand we’ve wanted to work with for many years, and in 2023 that wish came true. Thule has an incredible history, world-leading engineering and some of the broadest appeal of any business we’ve worked with, so we were, and remain, excited to act as their ambassadors in the UK. We started working together in January and got off to a flying start with some high impact, quality exposure generated from our always-on press office. In the spring we hosted a brand showcase at the iconic Battersea Power Station, which saw media and creator guests enjoy a private screening of Thule’s brand film then getting stuck into the product range on show. Throughout the year we successfully launched some incredible new products, including Thule’s impressive rooftop car tents, and landed extensive press coverage, with plenty more on its way thanks to a recent trip to Sweden, where Aspire arranged for a group of journalists to visit Thule at home for the biggest product showcase the brand has ever hosted.
As part of our mission to work with purpose-led brands and organisations we were excited to start working with the Ramblers this summer. Aspire earned the opportunity to work with the Ramblers following a four-way pitch process that focussed on our previous work with charities, our community outreach and the energy we brought to the project. Carol Flint, Head of Marketing, Communication and Brand at the Ramblers said, “We were very impressed by Aspire throughout the pitch process. They challenged us on the brief in initial discussions and delivered a response that was strategic, creative and realistic.”
Our team generated incredible visibility and coverage for Britain’s walking charity following the launch of its ground-breaking research surrounding access to, and provision of, Britain’s network of paths. Over a two-week period, the campaign was featured in 54 pieces of print and online coverage in various national/regional newspapers and outdoors/health websites, and the story successfully opened up many conversations, from supportive readers’ letters to heated discussions on Piers Morgan’s show.
Elsewhere we’ve continued to partner with ZONE3 and Sealskinz (currently hosting a brilliant pop-up in Marylebone), and we added FORM smart goggles to our portfolio. Wearable tech is a new category for us and one we’re excited to explore. Through 2023 we continued our work with recovery shoe brand OOFOS, health and fitness experts motive8, and began working with the unique London-based, handcrafted, sportswear brand, Usual Objections. They make everything in their own micro-factory in Hackney – it’s such an unusual and exciting model. Another brand with a mission is Threshold Sports which organises long distance challenge events. We’re helping raise the profile of their Ultra 50:50 campaign, a brilliant initiative to encourage a more even gender split in these challenging, but achievable events. Indoor climbing and bouldering are currently experiencing a boom, and this summer we supported Parthian Climbing launch an incredible new space in Wandsworth, their first centre in London. We love Parthian’s clear and ambitious brand mission: to make climbing accessible for everyone.
“Collaboration with inspirational people in our community has always been really important to us.”
Community is at the core of much of our work, and our Moving Meets are a brilliant way to expand and connect. This year we teamed up with Camino Ultra and Trash Free Trails to take on a City Trash Trails plog, collecting litter on a fun and sociable community run. We hosted our final Moving Meet of the year in November with a run and drinks in London as a way to say thank you to our community and celebrate the year gone by. By partnering with Coopah, we were able to share with our guests the gift of running, for Christmas, and for the year ahead.
“Collaboration with inspirational people in our community has always been really important to us,” says Layla Smith. “We’re always discovering people that have overcome more significant challenges than perhaps we’ve had ourselves, and they often have really powerful stories. Connecting with them, building relationships and then connecting them with our brands all helps amplify those stories and empower more underrepresented groups to embrace movement. That’s really exciting.”
Over recent years, we’ve placed a real emphasis on building the best possible expert team, based on shared values and a clear vision for the future. In 2023 we’ve welcomed some brilliant new minds onto the team and seen the team shift significantly in terms of gender split to 50:50 for the first time. While we are extremely proud of being female-founded and led at senior level, we are also striving for diversity at every level.
“Society offers such a vast array of variables and possibilities. Infinite diversity comes from the infinite combinations of those variables. Our role is to connect those dots in the most organic way.”
As we approach 2024, many people and many businesses are questioning the future. We believe this is the ideal time to really invest in brand and community building. That’s our plan for Aspire, and it’s an aspiration that’s shared by our brands. There’s still space on the roster – contact us at email@example.com to learn more about how Aspire can help your business to grow through 2024 and beyond.