We watched with great interest last weekend when golfing’s Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters. Though most were thrilled with the final two playoff holes, we couldn’t stop thinking about Scott’s shirts. We had no idea Uniqlo, a Japanese apparel company with little recognition outside of Asia and major metropolitan markets like New York, had any interest in golf or sports marketing.
A quick Internet search revealed, in fact, that they hadn’t…up until just before the Masters. Turns out the company signed Scott only days before the competition. The deal, which requires Scott to wear the branded apparel in all competitions and appear at promotional events, was an immediate boon for the brand, according to Forbes, which noted that rating were up 26% over last year’s competition.
As the sponsor of not only Scott (who may be poised to win several other events this season), but also the world’s number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, we can expect to see a lot of Uniqlo’s brand throughout the summer’s sports coverage. With two top-tier athletes as its “brand ambassadors,” the company has created a foundation upon which to build a truly global brand. “For Uniqulo [sic] the constant presence of a patch in front of millions for Djokovic on his rigorous schedule and now for Scott at the top of his game reaffirms the brand positioning where the retailer is strong, and exposes it to new consumers who may do a little Google to find out more, and be a bit more aware when the company continues to grow into new territory,” writes Joe Favorito at Sports Marketing and PR Roundup.
Uniqlo may not be Nike quite yet (nor may they ever want to be), but it’s off to a “unique” (we couldn’t resist) start to building a brand outside the traditional pathways. It’s a map others may want to follow.