Rothy’s, the San Francisco-based, direct-to-consumer shoe company, is coming to a TV screen near you.
Fresh off a $35 million investment round of funding from Goldman Sachs in December, Rothy’s is going national with two different TV spots. Rothy’s worked with Sandwich, a video agency, to put together the two ads. One centers around the shoe’s versatility and how to style the company’s complete line of shoes, while the other focuses on the shoe’s sustainability aspect (it’s made from recycled water bottles and is washable). Rothy’s now joins a series of other DTC brands who are expanding their means of customer acquisition and expanding their marketing budgets to TV.
“We’re not showing something so high up that someone can’t connect,” said Elie Donahue, vp of marketing, at Rothy’s. “It’s really about today’s modern women; somebody who doesn’t accept anything slowing her down.”
It’s a ripe time for Rothy’s to enter the TV market, as the company hit $140 million in revenue last year and sold more than one million shoes in 2018. Donahue said the ads, which start running today, will run for probably six months, but it “depends on how they do.” The two ads were directed by Olivia Mitchell and Kerry Furrh and were in the planning stages before Rothy’s latest funding round. The crew that put together the ads was also almost 100 percent female.
“The way we’re thinking about it is both awareness and getting people to feel good about Rothy’s and hopefully getting them to convert and try on shoes,” Donahue said, adding the brand hopes to reach an untapped audience that will “love Rothy’s just like our core customers.”
As part of the rollout, Rothy’s will also run a social campaign and create six, 10, 15 and 30-second clips to run. Donahue doesn’t believe there’s a saturation point yet in digital advertising and instead sees TV as an expansion of expressing the brand story differently. And TV isn’t the only medium Rothy’s is testing; the company also did a “small footprint” with podcast ads for the past six months.
“It’s connecting with people in a different way because of how they consume content,” Donahue said. “You can really tap into their mindset. It just opens up the door to new storytelling.”
Rothy’s is now part of a series of DTC brands like Away, Casper, Brookline and Dollar Shave Club who are entering the TV market. Mary Zalla, global president of consumer brands at Landor, said DTC brands are moving towards TV to “drive growth and scale.”
“Many of them have achieved all they can using online platforms like Facebook and so on,” Zalla said. “They’re not leaving those online platforms entirely but increasingly you’re seeing the convergence of [digital and TV].”
And while it’s a smart business move, Zalla said there is a potential for these DTC brands to take a hit from its original, core consumer base because they may lose their niche and uniqueness with a move to TV advertising. But since most of these brands experiment and market heavily on digital platforms, they usually know what messaging is going to work and translate best on TV.
Debuting on TV isn’t necessarily cheap but it’s not as big of a spend either. According to Kantar reported data for 2018, Away, Casper and Dollar Shave Club spent a total of $43 million on traditional advertising which includes TV, out of home, print and radio. Individually, Away spent $995,000 and Casper $20.5 million. Jennifer Kohl, svp, executive director of integrated media at VMLY&R, said Rothy’s mostly likely spent between the $10 to $15 million range on traditional. Part of that relatively low spend on TV is due to the engagement increase DTC brands tend to see after the ad airs on TV, said Kohl. Brands tend to see an immediate reaction in paid search, social, web traffic, search queries, time on site and more.
“You’re just driving chatter offline and that’s causing some sort of reaction in sales, searches, share, engagement within digital,” Kohl said. “When you start in the traditional space, you gotta come out with a much bigger budget. When you start online, you can start out with a much more modest budget.”