North Sails, B Corp certified international sailmaker and lifestyle apparel brand, came to us in Spring 2022 with a brief to help them unlock ‘the spirit of the ocean’ mentality in consumers globally, something it saw as intrinsic to its brand heritage as well as the future of the apparel business. In short, we were tasked with increasing brand awareness and relevancy outside of North Sails’ traditional sailing heritage and niche, taking it into a lifestyle space with a spotlight on its upcoming Fall/Winter ‘22 editions of the iconic Sailor Jacket.
Sounds simple right? Not quite. Not only was North Sails first and foremost known as an international sailing brand, but our goal was to take it authentically into a lifestyle space by spotlighting an apparel icon that was most associated with – you guessed it – sailing. Add to that the fact that we were creating an integrated campaign that had to have the strength and depth to span multiple seasons, whilst being relevant across key European markets that included Italy, Spain, Germany and France, and we knew we had the perfect challenge ahead of us.
We’d learnt from our insights work that our target lifestyle audience are sustainable thrill seekers. That means they have a love of the planet, especially when it comes to fashion and lifestyle, and they really care about adventure, digital culture and design. For us, that meant we had to bring the elements of North Sails’ brand that authentically spoke to those characteristics together with the sense of community that’s as part of North Sails as its heritage in sailing and on the ocean. So that’s what we set out to do.
We jumped into the deep end in a pretty epic way and created #WeAreNorthSails, the creative platform that underpinned the North Sails lifestyle and our campaign. What is the North Sails lifestyle? One that embraces the spirit of the ocean at all times, whether you’re in the water, in the air or on the land, defining the North Sails tribe with a shared mentality of passion, bravery and resilience and who is fiercely protective of the ocean. It was crucial that this sentiment came through in every interaction with the campaign, whether it be the content, the imagery and visuals, or the people we chose to work with. This level of simplicity and visual repetition would help us to drive that brand recognition outside of North Sails’ traditional sailing niche.
So, in just a few short weeks, we established four Fall/Winter ‘22 ambassador partnerships with individuals who represented the unique aspects of North Sails’ brand and brought to life the sentiment behind #WeAreNorthSails. They took centre stage alongside the iconic jackets, including pro kiteboarder Karlie Thoma, pro windsurfer Antoine Martin, pro sailor Pete Cumming and changemaker and climate activist Jerome Foster II. We brought them together for a full scale production shoot in London and Kent, with the contrast between city and ocean locations designed to authentically reflect the sentiment behind the North Sails lifestyle.
The shoot gave us our Fall/Winter ‘22 photography to truly bring #WeAreNorthSails to life. That meant a global toolkit spanning full static and gif asset packs for all social channels, digital media film content for paid social and performance, e-commerce and retail concepts, and a ready-to-go PR and comms channel strategy for local teams to implement.
As our Fall/Winter ‘22 campaign rolled out across all key markets, we were only just getting started. Next, we geared up for our Spring/Summer ‘23 production shoot, this time with a suite of new ambassadors and with an additional brief to deliver a commercial and enough content that would span six months. This saw us take to Lisbon, a location that offered incredible cobbled streets and rugged coastline, as well as giving us a reasonable chance of sunshine for a Spring/Summer shoot taking place in early October. Again, it was crucial for the vibrant editions of the Spring/Summer ‘23 Sailor Jackets to be at the centre of the shoot, whilst our new ambassadors were selected to embody the #WeAreNorthSails lifestyle through their natural connection to the ocean and sustainability. This saw filmmaker and environmentalist Lizzie Daly fronting the Spring/Summer ‘23 campaign alongside new ambassadors pro kiteboarder Tom Bridge and professional sailor and marine biologist Andreas B. Heide.
I think the more relevant question would be ‘what didn’t we learn?’! It’s no small feat to deliver two full scale production shoots and bring them to life within our design studio in just a few months. But it’s totally worth it and just goes to demonstrate the strength and depth of a simple idea, which has been strikingly brought to life for TV advertising, digital, e-commerce, retail, PR and influencer, all through striking visuals and a whole load of collective hard work.