Allison Williams Stars in Whimsical Keds Ad Touting Female Empowerment

Ciara and Tori Kelly are also featured in new campaign

Headshot of Christine Birkner

Keds is doubling down on its commitment to empowering women with a new campaign starring Allison Williams, Ciara and Tori Kelly.

When Keds launched in 1916, it gave women of the Woodrow Wilson era a less restrictive footwear option, and the brand's current slogan, "Ladies First Since 1916," is a callback to that heritage. "It's a platform that sums up the DNA of our brand. Back then, if you wanted to play sports, run after children, function, this was your first choice. That's who we've been, and that's who we still are," said Emily Culp, CMO of Keds and one of the Adweek 50.

The current campaign, by KBS, continues the theme of last year's ads featuring Taylor Swift, who is still working with Keds. Print ads include taglines such as, "Titans of Industry. Mavens of Style," "Make Your Move. Leave Your Mark," "Never Underestimate a Pretty Face," and "We're Wolves in Zebra Print Clothing."


One campaign video, "Uncharted Territories," features Williams in a beekeeper outfit packing for a trip, filling her suitcase with Keds to match outfits for every occasion. "The story is inspired by Keds' target audience of young women. They're throwing themselves into life and they're experiencing a ton of different avenues. The adventure, itself, is what they're excited about. It shows that she's going where she wants to go and is doing it on her terms," said Jonah Bloom, co-chief strategy officer and co-president of KBS.

Refinery29 cast Williams, Ciara and Kelly through their Here and Now division, a collective of brand influencers. The three stars are ideal spokeswomen because they're all creative entrepreneurs who believe in female empowerment and are hardcore fans of the brand, Culp said. "I was sensitive to finding people who really loved the brand, and in the process of talking to Allison, she had applied the journalism lens. She knew that the U.S. Rubber Company created them and that their original name was Peds. I said, 'I think we're good.' Ciara said, that, growing up, this was the most accessible, fashionable shoe she could buy, so she has a huge fondness for it. Tori's the same way. She grew up with them, fell in love with them, and, in her ad, there's a chessboard because her dad is a master chess player. Each one of these women had input on how we shot them."

Keds is partnering with Refinery29 to produce content for the campaign, including social content as well as interviews with Williams, Ciara and Kelly that discuss pivotal moments in their careers. Refinery29 also curated a roster of more influencers from a range of backgrounds, including female entrepreneurs, musicians, digitally-native fashion influencers and makers. "Keds is really aligned with our mission and our point of view," said Justin Stefano, co-founder and co-CEO of Refinery29. "For us, as a platform that's completely dedicated to women's empowerment, it was a really good fit."



President: Chris Lindner

CMO:  Emily Culp


Chief Creative Officer(s):  Dan Kelleher and Jonathan Mackler

Group Creative Director (s): Julie Liu and Michele Kunken

ACD/ Art Director: Nicole Lucey

ACD/ Copy Writer: Samantha Arcade

Copy Writer: Aaron Rodriguez

Head of Production:  Jenny Read

Agency Producer: Daniel Roversi

Business Manager: Andrea Fagan

Strategy Director: Holly Williams

Group Business Lead: Ritu Sharma

Business Director: Chris Ghent

Special Guest Co-Creative Director: Allison Williams

‘Uncharted Territory’ :30 & ‘Woman’s Touch’ :15

Production Co:


Photographer/Director: Autumn De Wilde                

Director of Photography (DOP): Chris Blauvelt

Executive Producer / Connect The Dots: Meghan Gallagher

Executive Producer / Managing Director Anonymous: Eric Stern

Line Producer / Anonymous: Saul Germaine


Big Sky Edit

Editor: Miky Wolf

Assistant Editor: Colleen McKay, Josh Nowland

Executive Producer: Cheryl Panek                                                                          

Producer: Sarah Van Tassel          


Big Sky Edit

Executive Producer: Cheryl Panek

Producer: Sarah Van Tassel

VFX Lead:  Ryan Sears   

VFX Shoot Supervisor: Ryan Sears

VFX 2D Artist:  Agnes Gunawan


Music / Sound Design:

‘Uncharted Territory’:30

Score a Score

Composer: Daniel Jimenez

Executive Producer / Founder: Jordan Passman

Producer: Jake Weinreb

‘Woman’s Touch’:15

Papa Music

Composer: Ezequiel Flehner

Creative Director / Executive Producer: Damian Minckas

Audio Mix: Heard City

Audio Mixer: Cori Melious

Color: The Mill

Colorist: Adam Scott                 

@ChristineBirkne Christine Birkner is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers marketing and advertising.