Sperry Goes Back to Basics With a Campaign for Adventurous Millennials

Retooling brand to complement intrepid founder

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Founded in 1935 by former Naval officer Paul Sperry, the Sperry brand, known for its Top-Sider boat shoe, has a storied history. And the 80-year-old company is harnessing that with the new campaign "Odysseys Await." 

"We started to look at what the brand had always represented," said Karen Pitts, vp of marketing. "We were inspired by the spirit of our founder, Paul Sperry, and sort of took stock of the core DNA of the brand and how that remains incredibly relevant today." 

"Odysseys" plays on the brand's essential qualities—American, authentic, adventurous—and the primal excitement water can evoke. Sperry said it's targeting "intrepid consumers," creative, bold people fueled by their passion for art, music or sailing, for instance.

The campaign comes from Minneapolis-based creative shop Mono, which won the business in October following a competitive pitch. 

"There's a certain section of millennials that really look at life as an opportunity," said Michael Hart, co-founder and creative co-chair of Mono. "[Intrepid consumers] want to have meaningful experience and align with brands that provide opportunities for such." 

By focusing on Sperry's connection to the sea, which has a universal allure, the brand has been able to simplify its business. "We're actually in a place where we're adding great dimension to what the Sperry brand has always been about," said Pitts. 

As part of the campaign, Sperry will be launching its Odyssey Project in mid-March, which will send about 80 people—consumers, friends of the brand, adventurers and more—on various journeys. In return, those people will create content for Sperry, detailing their escapades. 

@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.