Converse’s take on sports, meanwhile, is in-line with the 1913 directive. While other brands focus on performing like an elite, Converse celebrates the joy of playing.
For instance, the famous Chuck Taylor Basketball Clinic has been replaced with Open Gym, a program that, instead of teaching kids how to play, simply gives them a safe place to play (and test the shoes). Converse’s “just play” ethos has also been evident in another project, Band of Ballers, a simple three-on-three basketball tournament comprised of upcoming artists like Of Montreal and Black Lips. The game is closed to the public, but streamed over a myriad of media outlets including MTV. “We’re the oldest basketball brand there is. We come from basketball. We celebrate the culture of basketball,” says Cottrill. “It’s more about the joy of playing the game than it is about playing at the elite level.”
Ironically, Cottrill now finds himself playing at such a level, but true to form, he doesn’t see himself as a superstar, but more of a prototypical Converse consumer. In fact, a lifelong fan, when Cottrill, then vp, global product and marketing at Starbucks Entertainment, got the call for Converse’s job offer, he was, naturally enough, wearing a beat-up old pair of Chucks.
In a demonstration of Geoff Cottrill’s social media prowess, he got 16,747 votes on Brandweek.com’s People’s Choice Awards, besting all other contenders. Much of Cottrill’s outreach was via his Facebook page, which boasts 2,329 friends, and the page for his former fraternity, Sigma Chi. Cottrill doesn’t appear to have an active Twitter account, and told Brandweek back in February that “Twitter is a little bit overrated. There will be a new media toy to replace it in a year or two.”