remember running around in a pair of nylon umbro soccer shorts, black sambas by adidas (worn without socks), topped by an ocean pacific t-shirt and a pair of raybans? yeah, i do. that was 1985.
many of you weren’t old enough to remember that but that was twenty years before american apparel brought back the nylon shorts.
so why doesn’t umbro take credit for that?
if umbro is going to succeed in america, they need to reclaim their cultural legacy, while also redefining their core demographic.
umbro needs to remind america why it’s an original and why it’s umbro who represents authenticity.
young american consumers love originality but they have not connected that love to umbro’s heritage. the audience is out there, ready to align themselves with an original brand, and therefore an umbro campaign needs to awaken umbro’s legacy of authenticity.
in terms of broadening its appeal, umbro needs to be open to america’s multi-ethnic society in the same way that they recently embraced england’s multiculturalism, and, in the process, redefined their core demographics.
umbro did that by releasing a commercial which challenges their audience to reconsider the cultural identity of its english cast.
it was a commercial created by anomaly, for the recently-completed world cup, featuring a cast of soccer fans that represents the diversity of faces in present-day england, yet are not typically associated with english soccer, or even with english cultural identity.
as kanishk tharoor writes in the british guardian, the commercial “implicitly makes an argument about englishness by picking half of its cast from non-white minority groups” while it “elegantly evokes the power of… how an incoherent country can come together on the pitch, how, as the historian eric hobsbawm once wrote: “the imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of 11 people.”
umbro needs to use that same pioneering spirit to win-over american audiences.
here’s the commercial itself.