TDA Puts Crocs in Eye of the Beholder

LOS ANGELES Independent TDA Advertising & Design said it has launched a $1.3 million print campaign for Crocs casual footwear tagged “Ugly can be beautiful.”

For the shoemaker’s first consumer advertising, Boulder, Colo.-based TDA crafted three full-page executions playfully “acknowledging Crocs strengths and weaknesses at the same time,” said shop creative director and copywriter Jonathan Schoenberg.

“They are funny-looking,” but people are hooked as soon as they slide their feet into the shoes, he said. “They’re super-light and super-soft . . . We just want people to try ’em on.”

Initially appearing in September fashion and lifestyle magazines, each ad includes a close-up photograph of something that might be considered unattractive at first glance. Underneath each photo is a shoe—the firm’s signature Beach model—and TDA’s updated Crocs logo.

One ad zooms in on a dog’s droopy eyes, wrinkled jowls and boxer-ish nose. Another frames the smile of freckled-face little boy, his braces barely holding two gapped front teeth in place.

A third execution shows a woman’s neck and chest adorned with an oversized necklace made of yarn, buttons, beads, macaroni and other found objects. On one vaguely heart-shaped rock, “Mom” is spelled out in sloppy red letters. To achieve its authentic, kindergarten-crafts-project appearance, TDA art director Alex Rice “spent a great deal of time on that necklace,” Schoenberg laughed.

The ads are running nationally in magazines including Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, GQ, InStyle and Real Simple, as well as regional periodicals like San Diego, San Francisco and New York.

In addition, TDA has crafted city-specific wild-posting efforts in San Francisco and New York. Earlier this month, the agency relaunched the redesigned Crocs Web site.

Crocs—which Schoenberg called “extremely utilitarian”—are currently available in seven rainbow-spanning styles. The shoes are “great for sports, gardening, the beach,” he said, as well as for kids (“they can put them on themselves!”) and always-on-their-feet workers such as nurses, doctors, chefs and restaurant employees.

“I’m a bit of the socialist about these shoes,” Schoenberg noted.

Based in Niwot, Colo., Crocs’ production rate has grown to about one million pairs per month, according to TDA. The company is expected to go public within the next few weeks, and will be listed as CROX on the Nasdaq exchange.