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Describing a marketing vice president as “off the wall” would, in most cases, be something of an insult—but not when it comes to Nick Street. For the past three years, Street has led global integrated marketing efforts for Vans, the athletic shoe that somehow manages the competing tasks of being a legacy brand and the coolest thing on the sidewalk. “Off the Wall” began as a descriptor for SoCal boys doing aerials off the sides of empty swimming pools but has become a mantra for the company.
And what does it mean, exactly? Aware that the shoes have drawn an audience well beyond skateboarders, Vans has broadened its “Off the Wall” doctrine to embrace anyone who cultivates his or her individuality, taking pride in living a little differently than the conforming horde.