Monday
Sep272010

House Call: Can Dr. J Help Converse Connect With Consumers?

Julius 'Dr. J' Erving brings his Hall of Fame hoops presence to the new Converse campaign.September 26, 2010: Converse is going back to the future, and mixing in some current references, in its new Fall 2010 marketing campaign.

The effort stars Hall of Famer Julius "Dr. J" Erving, who has been aligned with the grand for about 30 years, plays godfather to an array of Converse endorsers, including Carlos Arroyo of the Miami Heat; musicians Jim Jones and Doug E Fresh; streetballers God Shammgod and Adrian "A-Butta" Walton; and streetskaters Kenny Anderson, Sammy Baca, Rune Glifberg and Eli Reed.

The campaign is anchored by a TV spot, "The Procession,"  that highlights Converse's new Star Player Evo shoe.  The spot breaks Sep. 26 on Fox during The Family Guy, and also will air on networks including Comedy Central, Black Entertainment Television and TNT. Support includes print and Internet, where vignettes of the ad will be featured. Lead agency is TeamWorks Media, Chicago.

Converse, founded in 1908, has been hard-pressed to gain attention among consumers who favor basketball shoes, especially since its main endorser, Dwayne Wade, switched in 2009  to Nike sibling Jordan Brand, which also has on its roster the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Nike boasts such stars as Wade's high-profile teammates, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, as well as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Adidas recently lost Kevin Garnett (who signed with Chinese brand Anta), but still leads with Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Tim Duncan and WNBA star Candice Parker. Adidas division Reebok, also seeking to make waves among the hoops hoi polloi, this year signed NBA No. 1 draft pick John Wall.

With just a handful of NBA role players donning the brand, Converse has been seeking to make inroads among enthusiasts of action sports enthusiasts and alternative and rap music. It's main claim to basketball fame continues to be the iconic Chuck Taylor All-Star shoe.

Played out to "Hello Operator" by The White Stripes, "The Procession" opens with the Star Player Evo shoe hanging from a wire and then cuts to a series of scenes in which streets and shops are devoid of people. A mysterious figure wearing a hooded-white sweat shirt and sweat pants appears and sets off a procession of dancers and players dribbling basketballs, some of whom are carrying a basketball trophy mounted on boom-box speaker.

The procession ends at a neighborhood schoolyard, where the trophy is presented to the hooded stranger, Dr. J, who acknowledges the homage and accolades of the players who have followed in his footsteps. That sets off a party in which an array of Converse shoes are featured.

"The new Converse campaign is the perfect summary of who we are as a brand," Geoff Cottrill, CMO of Converse, said in a statement. "It’s a celebration of people from different cultures who are passionate about what they do, coming together to create a movement. Converse is a brand that can authentically blend culture in a way that makes perfect sense for how people view and connect to sport, music and culture today – without lines or barriers."

According to Antoine Fuqua, who directed the spot. "Converse is taking it to the streets. Not just basketball, but skateboarding, BMX cats . . . The streets are the heart beat."

STARS OF SHOE BUSINESS
Nike: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant
Jordan Brand: Michael Jrodan, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen
adidas: Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Tim Duncan, Chauncey Billups, Candice Parker (WNBA)
Reebok: John Wall, Yao Ming, Jameer Nelson, Allen Iverson´╗┐

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