MSLGROUP China: Turning Green into Gold: Oakley achieves branding success in China

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Name of Organization / Company: MSLGROUP China, Shanghai, China

Category: Award for Innovation in the Use of Celebrities or Public Figures

Entry Title: Turning Green into Gold: Oakley achieves branding success in China



Iconic sports brand Oakley has successfully built a strong following amongst professional athletes since entering the China market in 2008. Yet, brand awareness remained low with sports enthusiasts and general consumers. It was further challenged by an overall lack of knowledge on the importance of wearing protective sunglasses when outdoors. How can Oakley convince consumers to consider performance eyewear in China’s cluttered sports market? Our objective was clear: generate brand and product awareness to boost sales in the market.


The Olympic Games are the most popular televised sporting event in China, capturing the attention of nearly 800 million viewers. This makes it a prime marketing platform for brands.

Oakley is the eyewear partner of the US Olympic Team and has multiple endorsements with Olympians, including two-time Olympic gold medalist and brand ambassador in China Lin Dan.

We tapped into China’s fervor for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and maximized every opportunity to connect Oakley with the event and the preparations leading up to the competitions.

This involved creating a complex and detailed editorial calendar for media, social and broadcasting opportunities, and readying teams to produce creative content in real-time. Our strategy was driven by working closely with select Chinese athletes attending Rio 2016 by seeding products for their use in preparations and competitions for the Summer Games.

To gain further traction, we developed a product seeding program with influencers and fortified relationships with media. By cementing relationships with these groups we could draw on their networks and resources to positively convey Oakley’s brand values and product superiority in the most efficient way.


A. Put Professionals on the Podium
1. Identify and form Team Oakley, an unofficial designation for Chinese athletes attending Rio 2016, for media, social and broadcasting opportunities of products and brand. Find Chinese Olympic hopefuls in outdoor events including rowing, canoeing and kayaking, sailing, track and field, and equestrian. Extend search to athletes in indoor events for use in noncompetition interviews and recording opportunities.
2. Leverage Oakley’s China ambassador Lin Dan to launch new Prizm Lens Technology three months out from the Games. Drawing on Lin Dan’s announcement that Rio 2016 would be his last Olympic Games, we carefully managed the launch to focus on how Prizm Lens Technology aided his training program.
3. Invited two-time Freestyle Skiing World Cup champion Xu Mengtao to launch Oakley Green Fade, a collection of limited edition sunglasses for Rio 2016. Timed event one-month out to generate enthusiasm and support for Team Oakley.

B. Seek out Achiever and Sow Seeds of Substance
1. Identified celebrities and influencers who appeal to our audience of Achiever as well as millennials
2. Developed communications and content targeting influencers and seed products for their use on their platforms

C. Intensive Media Relations Driven by Experiential
1. Develop and maintain expansive media list of both at-home outlets and Olympic Media for branded engagement, and encourage write-ups of Team Oakley athletes
2. Invite Olympic and non-Olympic media to visit and conduct interviews with Team Oakley athletes at the Oakley Athlete Safe House in Rio
3. Organize Oakley Snow Camp, a three-day experiential program for lifestyle media and sports/lifestyle influencers. Offered exclusive skiing experience with Oakley Prizm Lens Technology goggles for media to gain first-hand knowledge about the technology’s superior performance


The campaign exceeded targets on every level:

• Oakley China sales revenues for 2016 achieved over 50% growth compared with 2015. Oakley was the best performing brand within the Luxottica Group in China in 2016
• Generated 1,783 clippings with AVE Rmb 117,493,602 and over 93 billion impressions, exceeding goals by 167%

• Registered 112 celebrities and influencers with 464 individual placements, surpassing targets by 414%