Decathlon Unveils World's First 100% Natural Rubber Wetsuit in Innovative Campaign

Decathlon Unveils World's First 100% Natural Rubber Wetsuit in Innovative Campaign

Jun. 14, 2024

DECATHLON has taken an inventive approach to launch the revolutionary Yulex100, the first and currently only alternative to neoprene made from 100% certified natural rubber. Developed by AMV BBDO, the campaign "hacked surf cams" worldwide to speak directly to the water sports community.

The creative agency shot the majority of the campaign on existing cameras located at key surf spots across the world providing essential live information on tides and conditions to water sports enthusiasts. The 60’’ film opens with a series of live feeds from surf cams. Suddenly, people appear in the frames holding up signs to the cameras. Each sign was created from objects found on or associated with the beach, such as paddles, surfboards, driftwood, parasols, and big letters written in the sand. When stitched together, the signs announce the launch of the new Yulex100 wetsuit.

For decades, watersports lovers had no alternative but to use neoprene wetsuits, despite their environmental impact. Alternatives to neoprene do exist on the market, such as wetsuits made from 85% natural rubber and 15% synthetic rubber, however DECATHLON partnered with American-based company, Yulex, to push those boundaries further.

After two years of rigorous research, including over 50 lab tests and 50 different formulas, the company has succeeded in producing the first neoprene alternative that is entirely free of synthetic rubber, sourced exclusively from PEFC® or FSC® certified forests.

The first and only alternative to neoprene made from 100% certified natural rubber, Yulex100 will be initially introduced in DECATHLON’s beginner junior shorty range, which accounted for 34% of the surf wetsuits sales in 2023, and in the snorkelling tops, representing 27% of the diving and snorkelling sales for the company.

This significant shift marks the beginning of a journey to eliminate neoprene from DECATHLON‘s entire wetsuit range. Future expansions are planned for adult ranges and technical solutions are actively being explored by our teams for other watersports like diving and open-water swimming that require specific technical solutions.

Most of the production was carried out remotely with LA-based filmmaker Bob Partington, through OB42, directing the shoot via live surf cams liaising directly with teams in Portugal and France. The biggest challenge of shooting this way was getting close enough to the cameras to make the signs legible, which led to some creative moments with ladders, poles and people climbing on each other's shoulders.

Anna Turrell, Chief Sustainability Officer at DECATHLON said:

"As the world's largest sporting goods brand and retailer, we believe in reshaping the way we do business to reduce the impact we have on the planet. To do this requires a rewiring of the way we think and act as a business. Today, we’re proud to launch Yulex100 which represents an industrial revolution in watersports equipment, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and innovation”.

 

Raphael Goumain, Chief Marketing Officer at DECATHLON said:

“At Decathlon, innovation is at the heart of everything we do. We work hard to break new ground, from our new sustainable Yulex wetsuit made using 100% natural rubber to the way we market it, reaching those who will use it via a unique media channel they watch every day”.

 

Jack Smedley and George Hackforth Jones, Creative Directors at AMV BBDO, said:

“The surfing community is like no other. They have unique habits and customs, so we needed to speak to them in a way that felt authentic. ‘Hacking’ the surf cams they use every day allows us to speak to them in their own language”.

 

The creative will run in 17 markets, including the UK, Brazil, Malaysia and South Africa. The 360 campaign also includes 20” and 15” films, which will run online with supporting in-store, experiential, press and OOH work.

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