Birkenstock Ads Boast Of Shoes’ Fine Design Tagline Cites ‘German Engineering’ for Feet

By Joan Voight

SAN FRANCISCO–In its first work for Birkenstock USA, Hoffman/Lewis treats the client’s line of shoes like well-made automobiles.

The San Francisco agency picked up a slogan already used inside the company as its new ad tagline: ‘German engineering for your feet.’

Billboards were unveiled late last month in two test markets, Seattle and the St. Petersburg/Tampa area in Florida. Print and radio ads for those regions are expected to appear in late May and June.

The budget for the test is less than $1 million. If the work is found to be effective, it will be rolled out in major metro areas throughout the country later this year, according to sources.

Instead of focusing on comfort, as company advertising has done before, the new campaign positions the products as ‘carefully crafted and technically superior’ to other shoes, said Matt Smith, Hoffman/Lewis executive creative director. ‘The shoes’ looks reflect their purpose, like a well-engineered car. For instance, you buy a Land Rover because of what it can do and the way it is made,’ Smith explained.

This is Smith’s first campaign since his February arrival from The Arnold Agency in Richmond, Va.

The Birkenstock billboards consist of large, artfully lit photos of some of the newest styles of sandals and shoes. The tag, ‘German engineering for your feet’ is used as a headline, with the company name and Web address occupying a secondary position.

German car companies that inspired the work include Mercedes-Benz, which used the tagline ‘Engineered like no other car in the world,’ and Volkswagen, which employed the phrase ‘German engineering” in an ad campaign.

Birkenstock’s U.S. headquarters are outside of San Francisco in Novato, Calif.

–with David Kiley

Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED