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Case Study: American Tourister re-positioning itself as a hip travel brand leveraging Sports Partner

American Tourister, Samsonite’s mass market label, is re-positioning itself as a hip international travel brand; targeting the cool, young traveller.

In December 2016, as part of their India campaign, Virat Kohli was brought onboard as a brand ambassador. Kohli is – for India - the ideal face for the brand as he is the personification of American Tourister’s re-positioning.

Following the success in Indian, American Tourister took things to the next level and in February 2018 appointed football star Cristiano Ronaldo, the most followed male on social media, as their brand ambassador.

Anushree Tainwala, Executive Director, Marketing at Samsonite, said,

“There couldn’t be a better time to bring Cristiano on-board. His lively and vivacious personality, on and off the field, resonates perfectly with our fun-loving, vibrant brand personality. His presence will help bring American Tourister to a whole new audience, allowing us to stand out from the competition, and enabling us to take the Brand to the next level.

In Kohli and Ronaldo, it has found two iconic sports personalities who have strong personal brands & massive following in emerging markets.

This helps American Tourister win asymmetrically and leave competition in the dust. In addition to transferring the sports stars' attributes to the brand, the partnerships:

  1. Elevate the brand from Samsonite's low end product to a contemporary, practical international travel brand; targeting the aspiring, young international traveller

  2. Explode the reach: Getting the reach in India via Kohli (81m social media followers) and globally through Ronaldo (315m followers) - especially with the FIFA World Cup around the corner

  3. Engage audiences: Kohli with “I’m ready” & "Swagbag", Ronaldo with “Bring back more” are examples of sharply positioning the brand leveraging the ambassadors to provide differentiated, exciting engagement

  4. Top of Mind: Standing out in a commoditised travel accessary category, American Tourister is positioning itself as closer to the hearts of young travellers and in their purchase consideration

In February & March this year it has activated both players - Ronaldo (here) & Kohli (here & here),

Let's see where the brand takes such partnerships as we get closer to the Russia World Cup. It has achieved a strong cut-through even before the world gets gripped by the World Cup Fever.

How can your brand differentiate & asymmetrically win in a commoditised category through sports?

What other, more effective ways can brands use to reposition themselves?

Leave a comment below, contact me at wali@sportsconnect.org or message me on twitter @FootballKhilari.