Cecilia Linares


Old is gold. Veteran footwear brands.

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.

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:

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.

Architecture and Branding: Identity needed.

During the last decade, architecture and branding have developed an intimate relationship.

At a first glance, architecture and branding have nothing to share in terms of field of work, working environment, and purpose of what they intend to create. However, these two disciplines do share some similarities. Both marketing and architect professionals typically aim to interpret a client’s need and morph that desire into a product. Both fields work to shape and give an identity to a company’s product or service. Architecture and advertising investigate and observe their surrounding space with the aim to summarise, through the symbolism of form, the expression of their own distinctive content.

In our media-saturated global marketplace, advertisers realised that storytelling your brand’s identity is not enough any more. As B.Joseph Pine and James H.Gilmore pointed out, we live in the “experience economy”, where experiences are the cornerstone of our purchasing decisions. In this changing market environment, architecture came to play a crucial rule becoming a “catalyst” towards memorable perceptions and involvement of a brand.

The quintessential example of the game-play between advertising and architecture can be observed on Omotesando Street in Tokyo: the street of Fashion. Omotesando Street represents a unique collection of contemporary architecture buildings, each one designed by different professionals for a specific high-fashion brand. “Omotesando is a place to preen, to study, to practice style solitary, and to shop.” From Dior to Vuitton brands, from Ando to Kurokawa architects, this avenue is one of the perfect examples where culture and consumption merge and blend with each other. Omotesando street throughout decades of collaboration between architecture and advertising has sparked the “lexutecure” movement, where luxury brands use the exterior design of a building to advertise the product within.

Architecture and Branding

Nevertheless, brand’ identity embodiment through architecture is not only expressed through the exterior of a building. The Prada concept store in NY is another great example of how these two subjects operate and communicate through media and interior space simultaneously. The Prada Epicentre in New York was built more than a decade ago (in 2001), already showing the company pursuit of transformation and its forward thinking approach. Indeed, Prada outperformed its “family business” at the end of the 90’s facing a significant growth in visibility and brand consciousness which made them think that it was the right time to strategically renovate their business’s image. The image below shows how the interior of the Prada Epicentre store looks like:

This hybrid environment has been ideated by the architect as a changeable platform that turns the stairs into an auditorium for performance, film projection and lectures, with a simple push of a button.

The unique power of the Prada concept store lies in its ability to engage and leave significant experiences at different point of contact though the brand and architecture identity. The consumer is recognised within this commerce space not only as a buyer but also as a public persona. Through architecture the Prada store increases the capacity for social interaction, personal growth and discovery, in addition to the lucrative purpose of advertising the brand.

You might be interested to see how the Prada store looks like in a Sex and the City episode:

Not only the fashion industry has taken advantage of the architecture embodiment in the brand. The new BBC broadcasting house is also a great example of how architecture played a crucial role in shaping a company identity. The new BBC building took 10 years to be completed costing approximately £1bn in public money. We must remember, that the BBC is a public service broadcaster – the underlying goal for the architect was to project a “common good aura” dedicated building and space. As Jonathan Glancey wrote on the Guardian, the BBC executives hope that this expensive investment “will be a symbol of corporation’s openness and accountability. “

Architecturally speaking, the new room is fully made of glass and shining steel, with a glass ceiling ”vanishing into the crevice-like atrium”.

Thanks to the glass facade, the building is visible from the street and through a large glass window in a BBC Media Café open to the public. The selection of the transparent materials aim to convey a sense of transparency, openness and brightness towards the people who look at the building, towards the people (the public) who invested the money on the building, and also for the people who work within it. “Because the public pays for the BBC, the new Broadcasting House has been made accessible, in no uncertain manner. Visitors will be able to watch newsgathering in action from a glazed gallery above.” By using architecture the BBC was able to physically represent what is its inner and historical ideology.

As Anna Klingmann pointed out in her book Brandscape, “architecture is never isolated but its necessity political. What counts in a building is not so much the looks but how it comes to life for people and forges lasting connections.” I feel sorry for the conservative architects who do not want to see their holy job being instrumentalized and capitalised in our global media marketplace, but architecture’s morality is mutating, consumer’s expectation are evolving and branding’s practice moves minds.




The American Dream stereotype, yesterday and today

Is our advertising any different from the “laughable” campaigns of the 1950s on its use of stereotypes and views?

As Jean Kilbourn points out : “Ads sell a great deal more than products. They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be.”

In fact, the “American dream” faith has been used as a powerful and persuasive tool through yesterday’s and today’s advertising works.The American dream stereotype is “the belief that everyone in the US has the chance to be successful,rich, and happy if they work hard” and this definition perfectly reflects how Americans have shaped their way of thinking, their life perspective and expectations from the 50s till nowadays.

For example, let’s analyse how the American dream stereotype has been used within the American (dream) car campaign yesterday and today. It is a known fact that Americans love their cars and the 1950s were the pinnacle of American automotive manufacturing. American cars stood out from the rest for their unique style and cutting-edge design. Thanks to the growing productivity that had brought a rise in the standard of living, and the phenomenon of suburbanisation, the American’s sense of belonging, pride and car sales perfectly blended together.

The above image shows a1950’s ad depicting different brands from General Motors. As the copywriting suggests, GM are selling “dreams on wheels” and the image illustrates what the American dream has brought into US society: happiness, wealth and fabulous cars.

Today the automobile industry still represents one of the biggest American industries. However, even though more than 60 years have passed since the incredible 1950’s, advertisers keep using similar persuasion techniques. The research of the personal and intimate cultural sense of belonging as a unique selling point is still one of advertisers’ strongest strategies, and sometimes they even draw on the good old American Dream.

During last year’s Super Bowl, the most important American mainstream event, Chrysler released a perfect example of how contemporary patriotism would look like.

The voice of the commercial is from the American rock god Bob Dylan, that after a few seconds appears on the screen as the main narrator of the ad.

It should be pointed out that the Italian car company FIAT has recently acquired Chrysler. As a consequence of the fusion, Chrysler, which was a symbol of the American car manufacturing industry, had to reinforce and reinvigorate its own image and sense of belonging among the American target audience.


Detroit, once the cornerstone of America’s economic resonance, was a city badly hit by the economic recession. In this context, the incredibly expensive commercial (part of a campaign that cost Chrysler $16million) represents a heavy-hand investment in terms of cultural values and national recognitions.

Chrysler resuscitated the traditional advertising campaign where “American-made cars represent the idea of the American dream”.

I do not see people questioning and trying to modify stereotypes, I see people embracing the certainties, which modern stereotypes represent as they give them a sense of security. People today are being persuaded by the same techniques that have been used in the 1950s’. All in all, I would not laugh at yesterday’s society.