BE&F Documents Dr. Martens’ ‘Fearless Passion’

LOS ANGELES Dr. Martens has returned to advertising after four years with Veer, Outside of Ordinary, a series of six five-minute documentary films showcasing real people whose lives defy social expectations.

The client’s boots have been a wardrobe staple of workers, artists and musicians since the 1960s. But several years of slumping U.S. sales prompted the London-based company to turn to San Francisco shop Buder Engel & Friends to reinvigorate the brand by highlighting its intrinsic attitude: fearless passion.

“We kept reminding each other that if [fearless passion] is the code the company lives by, it’s got to be reflected in their advertising,” said Vince Engel, creative director at BE&F who worked closely with copywriter Ned Brown-Stearns and art director Erich Pfeifer to create the campaign.

Aimed at “opinion formers”—media execs, digital designers, composers—the pieces were directed by Doug Pray, a filmmaker known for his work documenting the Seattle grunge scene in the 1980s.

Filmed in England and overseen by Oil Factory Productions, the programs detail the lives of a motorcycle courier, structural surveyor, DJ, artist, roadie and silversmith.

In “Corner Office,” a 40-something man inspects a massive bridge that towers above an English highway in North Haull while winds whip around him at 60 miles per hour. In “Between Lanes,” motorcycle messenger Whylee zooms around London, picking up and dropping off packages like a parcel-laden action hero.

“You’re looking for people to understand something about the brand from these documentaries,” said Chris Stephenson, chief executive at L.A.’s Exposure, a lifestyle marketing firm working with BE&F. “The first thing is that people actually have to see them.”

To that end, the films are continually accessible on, which went live on Friday. The series is also being shown at the internationally touring Res Fest Film Festival and on 22 U.S. college campuses. The films will be featured on a DVD in Sports Illustrated and later in the year on Spike TV. Images by rock ‘n’ roll photojournalist Charles Peterson will be used for outdoor and print ads in magazines including Black Book, Surface and Fader through December.

“It’s amazing how little we did this for,” said Engel, who estimated the campaign spend at “just under $1 million.” Although Dr. Martens’ budget was not huge, he said, the company’s “never-wavering” support more than made up for it. “They’ve been incredible, staying true to the concept.”