I can still recall the moment the Navy SEALs first blasted a hole in my consciousness. When I was in primary school, my dad let my brother and me watch the 1990s action flick Navy SEALs. We were flung from the restrained world of Disney cartoons into the gunfire and explosion peppered workplace of the elite of the elite. When the movie ended, my brother and I mimicked the SEALs’ manoeuvres all the way up to the corner store to buy lollies (our old man must have been on a generosity kick that day).
Today, such is the power of the Navy SEALs brand they require little introduction. They’re called on by the US President to execute the riskiest missions, including the famous incursion into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Books written by former members top bestsellers lists and one of the biggest movies in 2014 depicted the life of a SEAL who is the US armed forces’ deadliest sniper. Other brands are now seeking to leverage associations with the unit that sits at the top of the warfare tree for international recognition.
TRX – the seller of bodyweight suspension training equipment for homes and gyms – was started by an ex-Navy SEAL and draws heavily on its SEAL heritage; accentuating the equipment’s origin as a way for the founder to stay mission-fit while on deployment. To solidify its credentials as the equipment of choice for the toughest in the field, TRX buttresses statements on its website about the rapid take up of its equipment by professional sports teams with testimonials from US military personnel serving around the world. In addition, luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre sought to emphasise the toughness and reliability of its sports watches by releasing a watch designed in partnership with the Navy SEALs.
Now Australian high performance fitness apparel company 2XU is hoping its association with the Navy SEALs will assist it to crack the US market and ultimately become a global household name. Without the marketing budget to compete against competitors Nike and Adidas, the decision by the SEALs to select 2XU as its preferred supplier is a fantastic endorsement for the 2XU brand.
By having the right association(s) you build equity in your brand and this association seems to be a perfect fit. 2XU produces high quality apparel, in particular compression garments that assist in enhancing performance. Given the products’ high price points, 2XU’s association with the Navy SEALs demonstrates to consumers why their products are worth the investment. For 2XU to be the SEALs preferred supplier, it is implied that the SEALs must consider its products to be durable, flexible and suitable for elite performance. Beyond functional benefits, the association delivers a social benefit to 2XU customers whereby they feel like they are part of a community that is extremely active and consistently performs at the pinnacle.
I look forward to watching this Australian brand grow. I’m even considering shelling out for a pair of 2XU compression tights to wear on the couch when I re-watch Navy SEALs.