People sometimes say “old is gold”.
Old friends are often the closest. Time has brought old people precious experiences making them wiser. Also, in the case of brands, “old can be gold”. In our market saturated by an abundance of products, brands and a variety of choices, the old age of a brand represents a key factor that still drives people’s purchasing decisions.
The “law of the market” severely dictates who survives amongst competitors. However, a brand that has been around for generations has a priceless intrinsic value and advantage within the jungle marketplace. A brand that gained experience and resonance over time amongst competitors of the same field is a brand that gained trust and credit to the eye of the consumers throughout its journey.However, the rise of innovation and competition in global markets led to an equivalent rise in consumers’ promiscuity in buying products, forcing veteran labels to step back and re-launch themselves into a new challenging scenario.
There are some companies out there that used thoughtful marketing strategies and their own historical heritage to successfully reposition themselves in the marketplace. One such company is the Palladium footwear shoes company.
Palladium: canvas shoes with a spine.
Palladium was born in 1920 to produce tires made by layering canvas bands primarily for the aviation industry. The decreased demand of manufacturing after World War II led the company to start producing footwear. In 1947 Pampa boots was launched and for over 60 years Palladium stood for quality materials, a classic line, and long lasting shoes. Nevertheless, in 2010 the brand needed to reinforce their image and presence in the US and EU markets. The in-house Vice Magazine’s advertising agency Virtue took on the responsibility of a fruitful marketing strategy giving a new aura to the Palladium boots. The new elusive hipster image that has been showcased through Vice’s platforms, such as the magazine video site and Motherboard TV channel, has revealed to be the right combination for Palladium’s new essence and positioning.
The images below shows two of the Vice’s adverts for Palladium.
The collaboration between Palladium and Vice has been so successful that in 2012 the footwear company designed a pair of Boot for the in-house Vice’s documentary channel VBS.TV. The “Pampa Tactical Boots” have been created exclusively for the VBS team production unite, based on their need to wear robust and comfortable shoes at the same time. A limited edition of 100 shoe pairs has been uploaded online for daring Vice and Palladium’s fans. http://www.palladiumboots.co.uk/blog/palladium-vbstv-awesome-0
Vice turned out to be the right partner for Palladium. They proved to have a powerful voice amongst their readers, creating content that people want to watch, thus achieving what all brands need and desire to do. According to what Palladium’s VP-marketing Barney Water told to Adage: “advertising these days is really content-driven, so I was really looking for the best creator of that content.” Thanks to such a brand placement on the media and their historical value, Palladium shoes are back on the street with a shaped profile and an alternative personality.
Unshakeably cool: Dr Martens.
A further good example of an iconic brand, which has seen a glorious re-enter on the market after a few dark years is the Dr Martens footwear label. More than any other iconic footwear label, the history, personality and success of the Dr Martens brand, was shaped by the people who wore and keep on wearing them. The distinguished shoes, with air-cushioned soles, were designed by a German army-doctor who after injuring his ankle skiing, thought to create the first pair of Doctor Marten boots.
The shoes came out in the United Kingdom in April 1960. At the beginning of their appearance in Britain, the shoes were worn by blue-collar workmen. The tipping point from practical worker shoes to fashionable item was marked in 1966 when songwriter and guitarist Pete Townshend (from the iconic band ,The Who) wore a pair of Dr Martens.
By the 70s, for more than 50 years, the footwear label has been always associated with the punk, skinhead and British subculture of a “rebel” generation who loved to wear tough and unbreakable shoes. Dr Martens were so popular among the streets that the same police who most of the “rebel-kids” were repeatedly fighting with wore them.
Suddenly in 2003 the company closed all the UK factories because of bankruptcy. Thus, similarly to the Palladium army-background, also the British footwear company necessarily made use of the contemporary marketing trends in order to create a new brand positioning. In 2012, the company announced their intention of improving global sales in the USA and Asia. Accidentally endorsed in the 60s by a music celebrity, in 2012 the endorsement was voluntarily created with model Agyness Deyn. The collaboration with the androgen model for the campaign FirstAndForever, perfectly shows the companiy aims to catch a young and wider audience refreshing its image as a credible fashion offering. The video was beautifully shot by Pulse production, as shown below:
Through several advertising campaigns showcasing models, celebrities, and musicians, Dr Martens re-branded its essence bringing a modern twist to its image without renouncing to its own unique style and design. Today Dr Martens shoes are worn by a variety of individuals, which share loyalty for the brand that identifies creativity, music, fashion and self-expression. I don’t know how many footwear labels can boast a book about themselves, Dr Martens can: http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Dr_Martens.html?id=7NbtAAAAMAAJ
From the city to the beach: Superga
With a classic taste and more than 100 years of history under its belt, also the Superga shoes company returned to the shelves.
Born in 1911 in Turin, the Italian label started its shoes production for waterproof tuber-soled boots for agriculture and vulcanised rubber-sole footwear. In 1925 Superga developed the 2750 model, still produced with the exact same design and timelessly cool white colour. From 1934 onwards the company diversified its variety of models and colours for sports purpose and daily life.
Superga reached its peak sales in the Sixties and Seventies during the Italian tumultuous political time when the shoes were worn by the young rebellious generation. Nevertheless, in the early Nineties, Superga lived a moment of crisis, forcing the label to strengthen its footwear line and expand the products.
One of the company’s strategies to reposition itself as a market leader involved a collaboration with the actresses and fashion icon twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. In 2012 the two twins designed a new casual cool-line to be showcased primarily in the US and Europe. Coherently with the soft and gentle nature of the shoes design and style, celebrity endorsements involved personalities such as Rihanna, Alexa Chung and other American fashionable characters. Moreover, singer Rita Ora modeled for Superga in 2013, see image below:
Further on their designer experience, the Olsen twins decided to team up with the Sartorialist creator and blogger Scott Schuman and photographer Garance Dore. From the fashionable collaboration, the photo and videos style diary project “ If these shoes could talk” has been launched in the US. The project consists on shooting 5 different influences in the cities of New York, Los Angeles and Miami and spotlighting their personal stories with the Superga brand. Follow below one introduction clip of the video diary project:
Fashion designers and celebrity endorsements is the strategy the Italian brand went for in order to reposition itself in the market. Superga’s figure has been clearly defined achieving its own distinctive preposition amongst competitors. The chic-sneakers are back on the market.
All the brands analysed in this article took advantage of contemporary marketing techniques to remain competitive. Nonetheless marketers cannot add to what they stand for, but they can put them on the spotlight. These brands represents clarity, consistency, reassurance and membership. Old is gold, still.