Speedo Debuts Swimsuits With 3-D Mapping, Michael Phelps

By Jim Shi December 6, 2011, 9:00 AM EST

Photo: Keith Sirchio for BizBash

Speedo "Fastskin III" Press Preview
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To illustrate that Speedo is far beyond a spectator brand, company executives staged an interactive, five-prong fashion show at Skylight SoHo, using choreographed dancers and 3-D mapping. The early-afternoon affair on November 30, which introduced the swimwear maker's spring 2012 collection and debuted the latest generation of “Fastskin 3” suits, also saw appearances by Olympic champions Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

The Fastskin 3 gear is what members of Team U.S.A. will wear to compete in the 2012 London Olympic Games. And although it might seem early to debut the new garments, a Speedo publicist noted that the Fédération Internationale de Natation—the global governing body for the sport of swimming—established new rules for competitive swimwear in 2009, effective for 2010, mandating that all Olympic suits be at market by December 1, 2011, and in use by January 1, 2012.

For Speedo marketing director Katie Malone and marketing manager Alyssa Igawa, who worked with Events in Motion president Samantha Sackler and vice president Jennifer Wang to produce the hour-long event, the goal was not only to unveil Fastskin 3 to attending press but also to entertain and engage the reporters in a fun and exciting way. “We're in our performance zone, bringing together technology that's never existed before,” said Jim Gerson, president of Speedo.

A buffet-lunch reception opened the event, providing guests with sandwiches and chips before they were ushered into the main room, an all-white area set with a stage, runway, and 10- by 55-foot curvilinear screen. The presentation itself consisted of a four-part fashion show that highlighted four distinct Speedo collections with custom Watchout videos, music, props, and lighting, as well as the introduction of Fastskin 3 components. Each Fastskin 3 piece—the swim cap, goggles, and suit—is sculpted to the specific athlete, so the producers used 3-D projections mapped to a model to illustrate this. As this visual display ended, the nine Speedo ambassador athletes, including Phelps, Lochte, Natalie Coughlin, and Dana Vollmer, emerged to showcase the real-life versions of the swimwear.

During the show, the Events in Motion team had only 20 minutes to turn the entrance hallway into a product exhibit dubbed the “Speedo brand experience world.” “The biggest challenge for this event was the timing,” said Sackler, whose company also produced the first two Fastskin launches for Speedo in 2004 and 2008. “We had five different displays that needed to be set up that involved everything from hanging graphics to displaying custom installations to mounting plasma screens.”

The resulting environment included mannequins, retail displays, and lighting made to look like moving water, all of which was designed to encourage members of the press to tangibly experience the collections for themselves.

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