Converse Jumps Back Into TV

Combining the worlds of basketball and music, Converse is breaking a 60-second TV spot promoting its Star Player Evo shoe, featuring Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Doug E. Fresh along with several well-known skateboarders.
The spot, by Anomaly, begins with a pan of some New York neighborhoods (the spot was shot in Brooklyn and Harlem) that are completely devoid of people. It soon emerges that two sides are squaring off for what looks like an epic basketball game. Before the action starts, someone tosses the ball to a hooded figure who, it’s revealed is a white-haired Dr. J. The soundtrack—The White Stripes’ “Hello Operator,” adds to the gritty appeal. The spot will break during this Sunday’s The Family Guy and also will run during the first NBA season opener on Oct. 26, which will feature the Boston Celtics squaring off against the Miami Heat.

Though Converse CMO Geoff Cottrill said the brand has advertised on TV recently, including during the MTV Video Music Awards, according to The Nielsen Co., such appearances have been relatively rare. The brand spent well under $1 million on measured media in the first six months of 2010, zero in 2009 and $5 million in 2008, according to Nielsen. “TV’s always been a part of the media mix,” said Cottril, who added that, “We wanted to make a statement about Evo.”
The Star Player Evo is an update of a shoe that Erving wore when he played in the 1970s. The introduction comes as the Nike-owned Converse brand’s market share fell from 2.9 percent to 2.4 percent for the comparable year-to-date periods, according to Matt Powell, an analyst with Princeton Retail Analysis. Powell said that Converse lost some share when it gave up Dwyane Wade’s endorsement to rival Nike’s rival Jordan brand, but also that Converse’s flagship Chuck Taylor shoe has lost some sales in the U.S. “There’s a move to technical footwear that’s also lightweight,” said Powell. “The original Chuck Taylor shoe is pretty heavy, plus there are a lot of other brands now that look like Chuck Taylor.”