Ask anyone what the appeal of reality TV is and you’ll likely get a response along the lines of, "It’s escapism—I just love watching other people’s drama!" On any given night, catfights and sexual indiscretions captivate audiences, keeping them parked on the couch and living vicariously through others.
It’s exactly this mentality agency Droga5 is looking to break with "Surfing," the latest ad in the shop’s Puma Social campaign that celebrates "After Hours Athletes:" those champions of Ping-Pong, bowling, darts, standing around looking good and other games focusing more on the social experience of play rather than crushing your opponent on the court. "People are buying into the attitude of it," says David Droga, founder and creative chairman of Droga5. "Not every sporting event has to be a battle and not every athlete has to be a warrior."
When the Puma Social campaign launched in 2010, Droga says his team was initially focused on acknowledging that there was a community that didn’t engage in professional or traditionally competitive sports. He describes "Surfing" as "taking it up a notch" without being repetitive. "We don’t just create passive observation," he says. "You have to be relevant, contextual, and part of the conversation." Although "Surfing" takes an obvious dig at the banality reality TV perpetuates, Droga says its sentiment isn’t necessarily anti-TV, but more anti-mindless TV and channel surfing. "With every type of community you look at what their greatest barrier is," he says. "Such is the time we live in now, the biggest barrier to people going out and enjoying being an After Hours Athlete is the desire to sit on the couch and watch crappy reality TV."
What’s interesting about Droga5’s approach to Puma Social and the After Hours Athlete is the fact that it’s more of a call to action than pushing a product. Droga says it’s Puma’s focus on fostering their lifestyle brand that gives it a slight edge over competitors like Nike and Adidas. "Puma is a company built on performance—there are shoes and apparel made to train heavily in, but there’s also more lifestyle products," he says. "We wanted to know what our consumer was doing with these lifestyle products but still have a dotted line back to sports. So there is an element of competitiveness but there’s still camaraderie around it."
Puma Social’s efforts to galvanize their After Hours Athletes has gone well beyond print and digital campaigns to sponsoring preexisting leagues and opening social clubs across the globe to host tournaments. But first, as "Surfing" shows with twentysomethings reveling in the night, it’s about making a choice. "You can sit on your couch and watch other people live or you can get a posse of friends and live the night," says Droga. "We just like the idea of a little rub up against [reality TV]—we wanted to make a point."