Advertising, Marketing & PR, Manufacturing, and Retail

Wolverine brand Keds' multi-year pact with Taylor Swift a hit

Special online offering sold out in 36 hours.

November 10, 2012
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Wolverine brand Keds' multi-year pact with Taylor Swift a hit
Taylor Swift is at the center of Wolverine’s marketing campaign for Keds, including the special edition red shoes that sold out online within 36 hours. Courtesy Wolverine Worldwide

American shoe and lifestyle brand Keds, owned by Wolverine Worldwide, received a facelift a couple of weeks ago from a very famous face: six-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and megastar Taylor Swift.

Swift has signed on for a three-year commitment with Keds, where she will serve as the brand’s new “face” and role model for its target demographic of teenage girls.

“We are so excited that we have three years to work with Taylor and sort of build meaning into the campaign and build meaning into what the brand stands for,” said Stephanie Brocoum, vice president of marketing for Keds.

“Taylor will be the face of the brand, or one of the faces — we really consider our consumers as also faces of the brand. Obviously, our partnership with Taylor is so incredibly important because she is such a terrific role model for her fans, and she allows us to quickly explain to consumers our style point of view, as well as what the brand stands for — a good, all-American-style brand.”

Brocoum called the nearly 100-year-old brand timeless, saying it appeals to many generations of women, but adding that, recently, it’s turned its focus to its core consumer — teenage girls, and that is how the partnership with Swift came about.

“As we started to rethink the strategy of the brand and sort of dig in and learn a little more about that target core consumer, we began to quickly understand that this is a girl who really feels empowered and feels like she wants to share her opinions on things, and she has a strong sense of style and wants to express herself through her style. These girls are girls who really expect to accomplish terrific things in their life.

“As we began to think about how do we best relate to this consumer and how do we explain to her that the values of Keds are also values that resonate with her, that really drew us to Taylor Swift, and we felt like she was the perfect partner for the brand.

“Over the course of the campaign, we will use Taylor as a role model to demonstrate what’s possible but also begin to tell the stories of these other girls so they can begin to relate to each other and find inspiration from each other, as well.”

The campaign will include the launch of an online hub of sorts for teenage girls, where they can seek inspiration through style and from the other girls on the site. Girls will be able to share their personal stories of success, bravery and strength and learn more about Swift’s journey, as well as access additional content.

As part of the campaign, Keds began offering a limited edition red shoe on Oct. 22 in conjunction with the debut of Swift’s latest album, “Red.” Within 36 hours, it had sold out.

“We were blown away with the sales results,” Brocoum said. “We were so excited to see the product fly right out of the website warehouse. We sold out of the product in less than 36 hours, which was amazing. To have that kind of quick sell-through on a whole new product introduction, for us, was super exciting.”

Keds plans to offer the red shoe again beginning in December, and since response from Swift’s international fans and the brand’s appeal have been so strong, the shoe also will be made available to international markets.

It couldn’t be better timing either, given that Keds was just acquired by Wolverine Worldwide in October as part of its purchase of Collective Brands’ Performance+Lifestyle Group.

“We are expecting a very positive impact,” said Brocoum. “The team at Wolverine has been incredibly supportive of the Keds strategy, incredibly supportive of the partnership with Taylor Swift, for sure, and really supporting us and making a significant investment in the brand. We see a lot of positive upside all around.

“The international expansion potential for Keds is really tremendous and Wolverine has a tremendous international presence already, so we see that as a huge business plus for us, as well.”

If the success of Swift’s album is any indication, Keds is in for a wild and lucrative ride. More than 1.2 million copies of “Red” were sold in the first week, making it the highest-selling album in more than a decade for first-week sales. In addition, the album is getting praise from the music community, many of whom seem to think Swift has a long career ahead of her.

Keds also is gaining praise from the footwear industry for the new campaign.

“We’ve’ been so fortunate to receive tremendous response, really positive, from consumers as well as the trade and the footwear industry and beyond. I think it demonstrates tremendous goodwill toward the Keds brand and certainly so much respect and admiration for Taylor and what she’s accomplished.

“We have tremendous expectations for the brand. We are really proud of what we’ve done so far. I think the exciting stuff is yet to come for us,” Brocoum said.

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