Keds Steps It Up … to Kick It into Gear

TakeAway: Keds is repositioning itself and wants to remind people that it is an iconic brand. 

The buildup of artist collaboration and partnerships over 2010 culminates in the 2011 “How Do You Do?” campaign, which will encourage the target audience to create and collaborate, and emphasizes the idea of Keds sneakers being a canvas used to express that creativity.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “A Campaign to Introduce Keds to a New Generation” By Tanzina Vega, February 22, 2011

Drivers who see a 32-foot shoebox rolling down the highway over the next few weeks should not be alarmed. The large white box is part of a new national marketing campaign for the sneaker company Keds.  The campaign, called “How Do You Do?,” is intended to reach millennials by taking the shoebox on wheels on a cross-country tour of college campuses. The campaign is also part of an effort to reposition the Keds brand, which has existed since 1916.

Since 2009, the company has been laying the foundation for that awakening by revamping the Keds Web site and participating in partnerships with designers and outlets like Alice and Olivia, Jeffrey New York and Richard Chai. Keds has also joined with the Whitney Museum of American Art on the Keds Whitney Collection, where artists like Jenny Holzer, Laura Owens and Sarah Crowner created limited-edition designs of the canvas sneakers, which were sold in Bloomingdale’s in New York City.

The company also created the online Keds Collective, where artists and designers could create their own versions of Keds to be sold on the company Web site. Users can also design their own Keds sneakers by customizing each of the 15 parts of the shoe, including details like the tongue binding, eyelets and laces.

A print campaign that began in 2010 was the next step in reintroducing the brand to the millennial demographic, defined as optimistic, collaborative, open and diverse. The ads featured groups of people doing things like building a sustainable garden on a rooftop.

Inside the shoebox, visitors will find two touch-screen maps of the tour where they can watch videos about the local artists, retail outlets and charity organizations that Keds is working with in each city. On another wall, users can see a gallery of Keds shoes inspired by each city on the tour schedule.  Outside the shoebox, visitors will see activities that expand on the “How Do You Do?” campaign slogan. For a section called “How Do You Do Keds?” students will be able to customize their own sneakers using a touch-screen kiosk, and can purchase the sneakers from the shoebox. The kiosks will also promote a shoe-design competition called “How Do You Do Your City?” which will run through the month of March.  The winner of the competition will get a $1,000 prize and a $5,000 donation to an arts-based charity. Keds is also sponsoring a segment called “How Do You Do Charity?,” where users will be asked to post messages on Twitter, using the symbol #HDYD, describing what inspires them about their city. The company will donate $1 per post to a local arts-based charity in each city, up to a predetermined maximum.

For each city in the tour, Keds has teamed up with local artists who will use the sneakers as a canvas. The slogans for each of the city stops will reflect the city name, as in “How Do You Do Austin?” and “How Do You Do New York?” For a concurrent promotion — “How Do You Do Art?” — local artists will create a mural on an eight-foot canvas inspired by the postings on Twitter using the tag #HDYD.

Edit by AMW

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