Faced with competing against the likes of Nike, sports shoe company
Converse has turned to youth to oversee the biggest pan-European
marketing push in its 88-year history.
The US management of the company has handed the task of re-positioning
the brand to a team of marketers whose combined age is less than that of
the company’s, including a 26-year-old marketing director.
Bob Sheard, the recently appointed European marketing director of
Converse, has raided the ranks of key youth-oriented brands to help him
in his task of reaching the target market of 15- to 25-year-olds.
MTV’s UK marketing manager, Michelle Poole, aged 28, joins as marketing
services manager for Europe.
Ex-Red or Dead marketer Bethan Alexander, 26, joins as European product
manager to oversee clothing.
‘We are only just one year outside our target market. Yes, they’re young
but they all have a track record,’ said Sheard.
Between them the trio have worked at some of the biggest names in youth
marketing: Levi’s, Pepe Jeans, Joe Bloggs and John Richmond. The new
team will be working towards Converse’s biggest-ever marketing push,
which is expected to see its current pan-European advertising budget
rise from pounds 2.4m to more than pounds 7m.
Sponsorship and below-the-line budgets have been cut back to bankroll
the initiative, which is planned for the spring.
In a market dominated by the might of Nike and Reebok, Converse - the
fifth biggest brand in the world in its market, with sales of pounds
277m - will have to take a different tack.
It will be eschewing the power, glory and beauty imagery peddled by its
rivals, to draw attention to its heritage as the authentic US sportswear
Converse was the first company to get industry endorsement in 1922, when
it signed up basketball star Chuck Taylor for its All Star boot with
trademark canvas upper, rubber sole and signature ankle patch.
‘There’s not much point in doing what the others are doing,’ said
Sheard. ‘We can’t compete with their spend. So we are going to be
telling a different story with our campaign.’