When Adweek launched its Challenger Brands franchise two years ago, the “challenge” was still by its traditional definition: engage in competition, push the boundaries, disrupt the status quo. But at the end of a year like 2020, the notion of challenge took on an entirely new dimension. Not only are most brands now challenged in multiple ways, upstarts have a much tougher fight. The unique economic conditions of the pandemic have demonstrated that mega brands seem to hold all the cards – scale, infrastructure, access to capital, and simple brand recognition. So what hope does a challenger brand have now, at the start of 2021? You will read about this in the following pages. Because whatever the tough economic conditions, innovation, agility and creative thinking always count for a lot. These virtues have enabled all of Adweek’s Challenger 2021 brands to gain market share from their more established competitors. And on the road – who knows? – they may be enough to overthrow them. A select group of designers and shakers behind the brands you will read will share their ideas on our virtual site Challenger Brands Summit from February 22 to 25. We hope to see you there. —Robert Klara
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