The online shoe company is engaging the community’s “makers, movers, shakers and local heroes,” including Gregory Gourdet, an executive chef and finalist in 2015’s Top Chef; and the owners of the non-profit Oregon Pub House, which gives back 100% of its beer sales to charities in Portland.
Earlier this month, the locals were styled in their choice of Shoes.com shoes, and then interviewed and photographed where they perfect their craft – at their home, studio, restaurant or store. The campaign captures a ‘day in the life of’ storyline, and the content is being shared on Shoes.com’s social media channels and blog, as well as through PR and email.
Shoes.com spent a week in Portland in a branded Winnebago, and launched a shoe drive called Heart & Sole that will collect shoes for the city’s homeless residents until the end of March. The Winnebago will head back at the end of the month to collect the shoes and have a celebration with media and influencers.
“Portland is strategically an important market that we identified, starting with analytics and just looking at the density of our current customers there,” said Geoff Henshaw, VP of brand and retail at Shoes.com. “Going in, we’re not going to have the biggest budget, so it’s about how can we generate earned media and connect with this community in a way that’s authentic. Not, ‘hey, we’re just here to generate shoe sales.’”
The Portland campaign is part of Shoes.com’s “community-centric market entry strategy,” which aims to engage with locals and influencers. “We’re looking to engage in a more authentic, relevant way that we feel will reach our target market,” said Henshaw.
Last winter, the company opened a pop-up on Queen Street West in Toronto, which has since become a permanent retail location. To promote the pop-up, Shoes.com handed out coffee in its branded truck around the city. It also engaged influencers including YouTube Lauren Toyota, who is featured in Shoes.com’s Toronto City Series.
“From an ROI perspective, this [approach] has a higher ROI than a national branded campaign and it allows us to stay really nimble and relevant in specific communities,” said Henshaw.