On September 23, GOAT Group announced a $100 million Series E to fund expansion plans, valuing the company at $1.75 billion. Its first-ever brand campaign, launched just a few weeks before the latest round, is the company’s first step towards market domination.
Defining brand values is among the most challenging processes any company goes through. The process often takes months, inspiring intense opinions from all involved, oftentimes illuminating the need for brand values in the first place. There’s no industry standard guiding the process, which means every company approaches it differently: some outsource the project to experts while others attempt to wrangle with it internally.
The end result is often difficult to measure by traditional methods. Brand values rarely even appear explicitly on the consumer side of the equation. In short, brand values have almost everything working against them. When executed successfully, however, brand values are what separate the brands we know and love today with the ones lost to the Internet Archive.
They’re what guide a brand’s story, behaviors, actions, decision-making processes, look and feel, and so much more. They’re at the heart of a brand’s identity, the way it interacts with customers, positions itself in the market.
GOAT, the high-end sneakers and apparel ecommerce platform, has known its brand values for years, infusing it in everything it does, from the minimal elegance of its popular app to its understated tone of voice, all revolving around a sense of timelessness.
Despite such a strong foundation, GOAT had never produced an actual brand campaign—until now. Drawing on its brand values, captured by the phrase “PAST PRESENT FUTURE,” GOAT recently debuted its first campaign during the NBA Playoffs. The spot features models in brands such as Gucci, Rick Owens, Raf Simons, Jordan, and Li-Ning silhouetted against strobe lights and set to music fit for a new iPhone unveiling at a hip-hop club.
Directed by Daniel Sannwald, a London-based German photographer and director who has worked with Travis Scott, Moncler Genius, and Prada, among others, the campaign was first conceived by GOAT nearly a year ago.
The reason to create and launch it now was manifold. “We’ve experienced a significant lift in engagement across our platform. COVID-19 continues to completely reshape the retail landscape and the past few months have accelerated the long-term trend of rapidly shifting consumer behavior to shop online, particularly in the sneaker, streetwear, and luxury categories,” says Sen Sugano, Chief Brand Officer, GOAT Group.
“COVID-19 continues to completely reshape the retail landscape and the past few months have accelerated the long-term trend of rapidly shifting consumer behavior to shop online.”
While COVID-19 has been a boon to GOAT’s bottom line, it also presented a problem few could imagine asking themselves half a year ago: how to create a campaign that communicates brand values and positions GOAT as the leader in those categories without the ability to come together in person.
The former was simple enough—to articulate, at least. “GOAT exists to inspire people to be their greatest and we believe the way to do that is to build a brand and experience with a POV; not merely a transactional platform. We want to communicate the core of GOAT’s brand as a platform that enables self-expression by providing access to styles past, present, and future.”
The latter proved more challenging although it’s almost impossible to tell from how unapologetically bold and energetic the campaign is. “We had to be resourceful, using some assets we already had as well as new ones.”
Equipped with mostly images, Sannwald was able to create virtual worlds to showcase outfits styled by Dianne Garcia, a celebrity stylist who works with Kendrick Lamar and SZA, among others. The fact that the entire spot was produced and directed via video calls and digital collaboration might have even worked to the spot’s benefit, echoing the long-held belief that constraints breed creativity.
“GOAT exists to inspire people to be their greatest and we believe the way to do that is to build a brand and experience with a POV.”
Once the campaign was created, Sugano and the wider GOAT team worked on placing it. Reverting to its brand values, the NBA Playoffs were the obvious choice. “There is significant overlap between our two communities, which is why over the last few years we’ve been building partnerships around the NBA.”
Those partnerships have taken the form of endorsement deals with Kyle Kuzma of the LA Lakers and Rui Hachimura of the Washington Wizards, alongside a broader partnership with the Brooklyn Nets, which includes a branded Barclays Center entryway. On the Nets partnership, Sugano says, “it’s been hugely successful for both sides with everyone from Lebron James to Kyrie Irving showing off their unique style as they enter Barclays Center.”
All told, the campaign and its airing during the NBA Playoffs demonstrate a company that understands its values to the core. The spot is refreshing and confident. There’s no voiceover repeating the same tagline over and over. There’s seven words in total shown on screen including the brand name. It’s impossible to look away in the same way a new sneaker silhouette, once seen, needs to be seen again and again from all angles until drop day finally arrives.
The audience itself couldn’t be more fitting. They’re equally interested in Jordan the player as they are Jordan the shoe. They’re not opposed to potato chips, new streaming services, or anything else that airs during commercial breaks, but their tastes have been fine-tuned over the years and GOAT speaks to them visually and textually in a language they understand.
It’s brand values interfacing with customer values. In the language its customers speak, it’s real recognize real.
All images courtesy of GOAT.