Converse: Fit to Print

Eschewing broadcast media in favor of highly targeted buys in national magazines, Converse has launched a brand-building campaign designed to link its diverse shoe lines through its existing “Stay true” tagline.
Developed by Boston-based Arnold Communications, the series of 8-10 ads uses deep, red-textured backgrounds and oversized product shots to achieve a distinctive visual feel. The executions include body copy that agency and client executives described as an “edgy” and “humorous” attempt to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
One ad touting the new Eco line of outdoor athletic shoes features a red terrain of dirt and leaves and a blistered, beaten foot. The copy reads: “The only downside is if you get thirsty, you won’t have any blisters to drink from.”
An ad for Converse Athletic Originals targeting young women features a suede background and the line, “Not quite as thick as your ex-boyfriend’s head.”
“We’re trying like hell to do shoe advertising that will get noticed in a saturated category,” explained art director Marc Gallucci, who created the ads with copywriter Bill Hahn.
Ads will appear in Spin, ESPN the Magazine, YM, Vibe and elsewhere through June.
The budget was not disclosed, but Converse spent $8.2 million on ads in 1997 and less than $5 million through the first nine months of 1998, per Competitive Media Reporting.
The decision to move away from TV into “more targeted media” is a direct result of this drop in budget, said Jennifer Murray, an official at North Reading, Mass.-based Converse. “We don’t have a Nike or Reebok budget.”