Speedo’s Space Age sausage: the LZR Racer

I can still remember when Speedo was just a brand of pretty basic swimming trunks for blokes. But no more.  They are now a creator of space-age swimming suits that provide a genuine edge to athletes who use them. The latest of these amazing products is the Fastskin LZR Racer.

I like a lot about this new product:

1. Genuine benefits

Swimmers wearing the new suit broke 15 world records in just one month.
I love the Speedo homepage that announces "World records being broken
daily". This is a real bit of sausage/product. It has 10% less drag than the previous suit, and allows 4% faster turns. Sounds small, but in a sport where every millisecond counts, this is big news.

Just look at the list of features that they tell in a fascinating product story:
– Core stabiliser: corset effect pulls in the core of your body to get the best position. Could do with that myself when I look at the photos of me on the beach
– Bonded seams: welded ultrasonically to avoid a rough seam
– Low drag panels: laminated onto the base fabric

2. Investment in technology
All this sausage required a load of research & development, which makes it very hard for competition to copy it. This included NASA scientists using aerospace technology to test the drag of 100 different fabrics. And suspending swimmers in a water flume and using thermal imaging to look at the water resistance.

3. PR-able
What a great story there is to tell with the LZR Racer, that sells itself. I learnt about the product through a whole half page feature in the Guardian newspaper with a great headline: "How Space Technology helped create a record-breaking swimsuit".

4. Recruitment magnet
Another great advantage of investing in product innovation, and basing your brand on substance not spin, is that recruitment becomes easier. Instead of a generic advert about "Great opportunities", "Loads of responsibility", "brilliant brands to work on", Speedo features the LZR Racer as a tangible proof of its commitment to innovation.

I posted before on this, talking about the Dyson recruitment ads that invite communication people to join them and have "a more honest future. The products are so good, comms folk don’t have to make up spin to sell.

So, Speedo is definitely in the running for "Sausage of the Year"! I think I’ll collect great product ideas as 2008 goes on, and we’ll have a vote at the end of the year….