Dr. Martens marks its 50th anniversary by melding its past with the present, rolling out a digital campaign centered on 10 modern covers of classic pop tunes spanning the diverse musical history of the brand.
"We wanted to celebrate the brand's heritage, but [also] champion its contemporary relevance and look to the brand's future," said Tom Phillips, creative director at Exposure in New York, which crafted the campaign. "Music is inherently linked to the brand. It's always been worn and adopted by musicians throughout its history."
Ten exclusive tracks and videos will begin to be available for free online download today at drmartens.com.
Selections include the Noisettes covering Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldnt've)"; Dam Funk performing Human League's "Things That Dreams Are Made Of"; and Stone Roses' version of the Raveonettes' "I Wanna Be Adored."
Contemporary artists reinterpreting classic songs associated with each of the five decades of the brand's history were paired with directors to create video content. Behind-the-scenes clips of the recording sessions and a documentary about the history of the brand round out the content.
"It's a brand that people have tended to adopt from different subcultures throughout its history," said Phillips. "What we're seeing today is a whole new generation of kids picking up on the brand and giving their own slant on what it means and how it can be worn."
he generation Dr. Martens is courting of late is more fashion-forward than the brand's core consumer, which best remembers the brand's association with the U.K. punk scene and the classic eight-eye boot.
"We [want to] challenge people's perception of the brand from a modern perspective," said Thomas Renaud, group marketing director of Exposure. "We want people to rethink what Dr. Martens are."
An artist such as Dam Funk, for example, "musically pushes the expectations beyond a traditional take on what you think of musically when you think of Doc Martens," added Phillps.
Although the campaign includes print ads in May issues of national magazines, the communications effort is driven by the digital content designed to be shared. "The music videos give additional angles to the tracks and allow the content to travel freely online," said Phillips. "Music and videos are all things we like to share and are easy to share."
Dr. Martens' last attempt to play homage to its musical heritage stirred controversy: a 2007 print campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi pictured dead musicians Kurt Cobain, Joey Ramone and Sid Vicious wearing the boots as angels in heaven.
The release date of the campaign commemorates the date of the first production of the brand's classic 1460 boot: April 1, 1960. Limited editions of the 1460 and 1461 boots and shoes will be available.
The online content will be available in stages through Nov. 1. And the music will also be available on limited edition 10" vinyl.