Birkenstock Renaissance

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Pro AwardsBest Use of Public Relations in a Promotion Campaign

Agency: Grow Marketing
Campaign: Birkenstock Renaissance
Client: Birkenstock USA

Birkenstock USA is popular among an older generation of loyalists, who like the brand’s craftsmanship, comfort, eco-friendly materials and commitment to healthy feet. The concern among the company, however, was that the brand hadn’t evolved in decades. They were also seen as expensive.

Younger consumers didn’t consider Birkenstocks fashionable. Without a new generation of adopters, the brand was in danger of aging out and becoming irrelevant. It wanted to prevent stagnation and decline and re-establish interest and credibility with both consumers and retailers.

In spring 2009, Birkenstock created two new styles for women – the Madrid and the Gizeh – in bright colors and fabrics, representing a bold new direction designed to appeal to it new target. Affordable and stylish, Birkenstock was ready to get the message out.

A public relations program began in Q409 and ran through 2010 to build awareness and cache among younger consumers, fashion influencers and retailers, while reassuring loyalists that the brand was staying true to its best attributes.

To spark buzz, they sought moms and fashion and shopping bloggers as brand evangelists, pitched stylists working on targeted television shows and re-engaged fashion and lifestyle editors and reporters.

Birkenstock received more than 134 million media impressions, including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, Newsday, Elle, Lucky and Shape. The biggest testament to the success of the brand’s word of mouth deployment came in a placement with The New York Times that took a year in the making. Guy Trebay, lead fashion editor and critic, was initially resistant to writing about the brand. Keeping the dialogue going throughout the year, Trebay admitted that he was starting to see people wearing the new line around town, including several fashion colleagues at The Times, and relented, triggering a key story in the Style Section detailing Birkenstock’s re-emergence as a brand to watch and wear.

TV shows appealing to younger, fashion-focused consumers began dressing actors in Birkenstocks. The brand went from pitching to fielding inbound requests from wardrobe departments, resulting in Birkenstock appearing in a number of 2010 films, including the Oscar-nominated “The Kids Are All Right,” “Motherhood” and “Grown Ups.”

The brand expected to increase unit sales by 7% and was looking to achieve at least three new retail accounts. Ultimately, the campaign helped boost unit sales by 14% in 2010 (currently running 12 percent ahead in 2011).

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