The social network for athletes, Strava, is rolling out a new multi-platform ‘Athletes Uncovered’ campaign that aims to showcase how social media has stopped being real, and encourages its athletes to go against the grain.

The initiative rallies against social media’s continued curation and the pressure to filter out reality and only share a “perfect you”.

The objective is to inspire existing and potential amateur athletes and act as a direct call for them to be themselves, to celebrate the inclusivity of sport and their hard work, and to reject the curation and negativity found on other social networks.

Launched on Strava’s blog (at https://blog.strava.com/athletes-unfiltered/), the integrated Athletes Unfiltered campaign kicked off on 23 August with a short, hero film debuted on the brand’s digital and social platforms and starring everyday members of the Strava community sharing the ‘raw, uncurated ups and downs of their experience with sport’.

This anthemic ad, created by BAFTA-nominated production company Archer’s Mark, is supported by a set of 12 online videos which highlight different aspects of the Strava community and together show ‘the honest, supportive community that separates Strava from other social networks’ and that ‘sport has a powerful ability to unite different kinds of people in a time when little else can’.

Each film, all of which are digitally distributed, focuses is on ‘the unifying quality of sport during a divisive time’ and features genuine Strava community members from all around the globe.

The films are supported with additional content across the brand’s digital and social channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

The spots also encourage Strava athletes ‘to go against the grain’ by posting their own anti-filter action photos, tagged with the campaign’s #AthletesUnfiltered hashtag, in the form of selfies which show awkward tan lines, flushed post-workout selfies, filthy hands, or just the unfettered joy of getting through a big day out.

Thus the campaign aims to get the athletes themselves to encourage one another to forget about what people think and to ‘bring each other together with raw and ridiculous photos of the sports we love’.

This strand of the campaign was pushed via an email strand to Strava members and also signposted with a set of individual amateur Strava athlete image posts.

“There are two key insights that drove the work, both inspired by what’s wrong with the world lately. Firstly, we live in a terribly divisive time, and sport connects people across lines you might not expect. It is a positive, unifying force, and we want to shine a light on its power to bring people together,” explains Gareth Nettleton, Strava’s marketing VP.

“Secondly, Strava is a real, raw, very unfiltered social network. We believe that people all over the world are exhausted by the pressure to always present a perfect, curated self on other social networks. So we wanted to make it very clear that Strava is a place to put it all out there and be yourself. Unity and acceptance – that’s what this campaign is about.”

Tashia Palley, a London-based cyclist and Strava member who features in the film, adds: “Strava is more real, more raw, in a way. So when you’ve done some exercise, people are just posting, no make up, sweaty selfies, of what you’ve done. And I think you feel such a buzz when you’re doing your exercise; who cares if you’ve got no makeup or look a mess?”

Harx Kalsi, another London-based runner and Strava member, said: “I show off me, this is me. I have rubbish runs, I have great runs, like, this is what happens. This is who I am, and I am sharing that with you, whether you like it or not. I think it’s also showing other runners and cyclists, that you should just be yourself, you don’t need to be crazy, you don’t need to be doing mad miles, or you don’t need to be running this quick. Just have fun with it.”

Comment:

Strava’s self-styled tagline is ‘the social network for athletes’, so this campaign aims to bring this proposition to life.

The campaign films, co-directed by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison, have a documentary feel and blend earthy, real footage with a sense of style and panache.

The brand may like to think of itself as a simple champion of pure, unadulterated, honest sport for its own sake, but we can’t help but wonder whether Strava could have offered more of an incentive – a reward mechanic – in order to drive posting and generate active participation.

Plus, we wish the initial athlete image posts were a bit more gritty, awkward and dirty.

But we certainly admire the creative and support the objective.

Not least because mobile app amateur athlete social networks – whether they be focused on training, tracking, or tips – face their own set of challenges when it comes to ‘keeping it real’.

After all, just like in the worlds of pro cycling and pro athletics, there are plenty of stories of digital doping and E(lectronic)PO being used by athletes too desperate to break Strava time records and scoop King of the Mountains accolades.

The new initiative campaign replaces the brand’s previous ‘Strive’ campaign which ran in 2016 and included a previous online video series that included a hero video,and around 30 supporting shorter spots.

Before ‘Strive’, the brand’s 2015 campaign concept was built around athlete ‘Rituals’.

Its mobile apps and website connect millions of active people every day and generates the following stats:
>16 activities uploaded every second, 11 million every week

>100+ compatible mobile phones and GPS devices

>130+ employees

>600+ professional athletes are on Strava

>1 million athletes join every 45 days

>1.3 billion kudos given between athletes last year

>£5.99 a month or £44.99 a year for Premium

>100+ cities making commuting better with Strava Metro

Links:

Strava
https://www.strava.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Strava

https://www.instagram.com/stravacycling/

Deutsch New York
http://www.deutsch.com/

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