On and Aspire: from start-up to $7 billion shoe company

Client

On

Services

Aspire Active
Aspire Live
Aspire Studio

Brief

Move On to the next level in the UK while keeping faithful to the brand’s principles.

On 15 September 2021, On’s founders and 100 other runners, jogged along the Hudson River to Wall Street to mark the company’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange. The event marked a significant milestone for the brand. In a little over 10 years, the company, supported by Aspire in its UK PR and marketing activities, has grown from Swiss start-up to global $7 billion shoe company. Now, it was time to build for another decade of success.

Over 10 years in successful partnership

Aspire and On have long shared an innovative, pioneering spirit. We have worked closely together for just over a decade after On was founded in 2010 by three friends, Olivier Bernhard, Caspar Coppetti and David Allemann. 

We have established and raised the awareness of On and its products in the UK. We have spread the message about the technical performance and innovative design of its footwear to journalists, influencers and runners at all levels.

In 10 years, our work has reached over hundreds of media and influencers, generated thousands of pieces of coverage in trade, consumer, sport and lifestyle titles, and achieved a total media reach of 3 billion.

But, like On, we never stop thinking about how we can improve performance, challenge the status quo and spread the brand’s positive message further.

The next step on our journey together was to build strong foundations for future success.

“On’s net sales for the first half of 2021 hit $343 million, up 85% compared to the same period in 2020.”

Forbes.com

For On and Aspire, the global Covid pandemic brought renewed focus on health, wellbeing and exercising outdoors.

On was in a perfect position to build for the future. Together, we wanted to work together to reach new audiences with the founding story, innovative technology and new product launches, and accelerate sales ahead of its IPO.

Conscious that On has a large loyal fanbase, we wanted to connect with people in an authentic way and showcase the brand’s footwear and sportswear through real experiences.

We wanted to deepen existing relationships with brand loyalists, reach new audiences in the worlds of style, fashion and contemporary culture, and maximise big brand moments.

Keeping it real with runners

To elevate On in the performance running space, we gained widespread exposure from media and influencers for the On pop-up lab. Timed to capture attention in the build-up to the London Marathon 2021, the London Lab was the perfect opportunity to connect with runners as they fine-tuned performance before race day.

By day, runners could test On’s innovative CloudTec running technology first-hand. By night, the lab was a place for social events, film screenings and inspirational speakers.

Introducing the brand to creative audiences

To reach a new audience of enthusiastic explorers, we invited a select group of media and creatives to spend time in a beautifully designed, self-contained hideaway called The Love Shack in the Lake District.

We worked closely with likeminded partners to create unique and individual adventures, such as hiking with a local guide, online breathing sessions, in-house private yoga and fine-dining experiences.

The ‘Retreat & Create’ project brought On’s brand messages around imagination, curiosity, culture and creativity to the attention of a new, very relevant audience of creative brand fans.

Capitalising on the Roger effect

The big news of 2019 was tennis legend Roger Federer joining the On team as a co-entrepreneur. We set to work to maximise coverage for this huge brand moment and break out beyond On’s traditional fanbase.

As the franchise developed, Aspire commissioned PAUSE magazine to highlight the ROGER footwear collection designed by the tennis superstar and reach young, female and savvy, street-ready readers.

Working with young talent from the PAUSE agency, we created and seeded short, playful videos on TikTok that resonated with a whole new segment of Gen Z brand fans.

Our PAUSE collaboration was just one of the successful strategic media partnerships we built to raise the profile of On with previously untapped audiences.

Connecting with cultural and fashion communities

In September and October 2021, we celebrated the challenge of running a marathon by bringing On’s ‘Point Two’ campaign to life through art.

Centred around an installation by Lucy Hardcastle, the Point2 pop-up event invited artists, creatives and runners to experience the marathon mindset through art, movement and music.

The event successfully introduced the brand to cultural, fashion and lifestyle audiences while also retaining relevance to On’s core running audience.

Supporting On’s impressive growth

$7.3m

estimated market value of On following IPO

85%

average annual net sales growth over 10 years

700+

pieces of UK coverage in 2021

Building foundations for the future

On and Aspire are in a healthy position for the future.

The brand is deepening its relationship with runners, media and influencers and crossing over to an exciting group of new audiences.

Our PR and marketing activity around the London Lab shows how we can bring the brand to life in a genuine way and create a real sense of runner community.

Beyond On’s core running audience, we are helping the brand to make significant headway into the worlds of art, fashion and style. The Retreat & Create and Point2 activations tapped into a market of creatives, urban types and tastemakers and built new relationships with brand influencers.

The PAUSE collaboration put On in a fresh, creative and chic urban setting. The partnership opened up opportunities to work with talent to create short, playful videos shown on TikTok, neatly following on from Roger Federer’s TikTok debut.

On also continues to lead the conversation in the important topics that matter to the planet. The brand’s innovative CleanCloud technology, harvesting supply chain CO2 emissions to create performance running shoes, achieved media coverage in The Times and other UK media outlets.

On begins a new decade with strong foundations for a future full of exciting possibilities. At Aspire, we can’t wait to help make those dreams come true.