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Converse: Keeping their cool

Converse: Keeping their cool
April 5, 2015 hello

It’s the bane of any trendy brand…. once an item becomes massively popular, it can lose its cool cachet and once it’s joined “the mainstream”, it’s less special. With billions of dollars of profit under its belt, a 100 year anniversary looming and being one of the world’s most ubiquitous shoe brands, how can Converse stay “cool?”

Agency Anomaly faced up to the challenge and came up with the “Made for You” campaign. Taking individual second hand shoes back from (carefully selected) consumers via social media, the used, battered and scuffed, drawn on, beat up old sneakers of key influencers have been elevated to high art with beautiful photography, installations run by up and coming artists, interactive Google Cardboard events at Fashion Week, and a social media campaign supported by the full weight of the company’s traditional marketing budget as well.

By bringing back the focus to the individual, the brand has tapped in to the very essence of what it is to be “Cool” – it’s always been about that individuality. Their shoes might come off a production line, but once they are in the hands of customers they regain their individuality as they start to bear the marks of everything that’s thrown at them.  With the artists, celebrities, sportspeople and other stars leading the way, the campaign has a huge social push as well so everyone can join in and be a part of the buzz.


Converse 'Made By You' Installation Unveiling

User-generated content has long been held up as a low-cost, very powerful way to build engagement with a brand’s community. The downside of user-generated content is that it is almost impossible to “brief” consumers on what sort of content you’d like them to generate. Almost impossible, but not entirely – with this campaign Anomaly have demonstrated how it can be done. The flagship content, carefully crafted and selected using a list of key influencers, sets the tone for the rest of the user-generated contributions.

By tapping in to exactly what is “Beloved” about this brand, they have been able to create beautiful, on-brand content that also acts as a strong brief for anyone else who wants to play along.

In order to pull off this execution, which has seen the battered cons of famous (or famous-in-their-field) people plastered on billboards and posters in major cities all over the world, Converse’s hefty spring season budget has been thrown entirely at this campaign, diverted from its usual purposes to go “All in” with one message, one set of visuals across all channels at once – a fully integrated multi-media campaign with Social media leading the way in a rare, truly digitally integrated campaign.

By turning the traditional model on its head, and starting with digital instead of ending there, the campaign illustrates beautifully how user-generated content can really shine, creating unprecedented “buzz” for an advertising campaign.

Of course not every brand has the deep pockets of Converse – but this innovative approach can also be applied on a smaller scale to other beloved (but perhaps prosaic) brands.  The key is selecting the right key influencers, being very clear about what content needs to be generated, and letting those influencers lead the way. The content that is created acts as a clear brief to the rest of the community, and as long as everyone is singing from the same song book, the results can be spectacular, reaching way beyond the budget spent – as it has done for Converse, with this campaign attracting worldwide media attention.

This is not a tactic to attempt with a controversial brand, but as a way to breathe new life into a brand that’s in danger of becoming a victim of its own popularity, it’s second to none.