Converse Fans Get Behind the Camera

SAN FRANCISCO Short films created by Converse fans convey their reverence for the footwear in Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners’ first TV campaign for the Nike-owned athletic-shoe brand.

Artists, musicians, fashion designers, filmmakers and others nationwide were asked to craft 25-second films inspired by Converse—particularly its flagship Chuck Taylor sneaker.

The new “Brand Democracy” campaign is a big departure from Converse ads of the recent past.

The client’s final ads from Boston-based indie shop Modernista! broke last November and featured NBA players Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors), Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat), Mike Sweetney (New York Knicks), Kirk Hinrich (Chicago Bulls) and Troy Bell (Memphis Grizzlies). That effort focused on their transitions from being college heroes to leading hard-working lives as NBA players. Scenes show the guys waking up early, leaving their homes, driving to the arena, preparing in the locker room and practicing. The tag, “The freshman class of the First School,” made reference to Converse’s history as a premier performance shoe.

Independent shop BSSP won the North Andover, Mass.-based Converse account in May, following the client’s split with Modernista!

BSSP in Sausalito, Calif., collected 20 of the shorts for the first installment of the integrated marketing effort; of those, 12 will run on TV and eight on the Web during the first phase. All told, more than 150 films have come in to BSSP from around the country.

One film shows a Godzilla-style monster invading a city; the lizard, however, does not want to eat the people—just the Converse sneakers hanging from telephones wires above the street.

“This is a brand worn by artists, athletes, and other creative individuals, who don’t like being sold to,” said John Butler, creative director and partner at BSSP.

The estimated $5 million campaign broke on MTV this week.

The eight Web films are running on The most-watched film now is by New Yorker magazine cover artist Harry Bliss of Vermont. His work shows a cartoonist drawing a sports stadium, whose game is suddenly interrupted by a giant baby appearing in the outfield.