Crocs, Inc., a manufacturer of comfort footwear, is crediting its success this year partly to its title sponsorship of the Association of Volleyball Player’s (AVP) Tour, a pro beach volleyball tour.
Crocs will make $90 million this quarter compared to $110 million for all of 2005, reported CEO Ron Snyder, speaking yesterday at the Sports Sponsorship Symposium, held in New York City. Snyder and Leonard Armato, CEO and commissioner of the AVP, gave attendees insight into how the company activated its sponsorship in ways that have led to its growth.
“It was a match made in heaven at lightning speed,” Armato said of the deal made in April, a week before AVP tour events kicked into high gear.
“We needed to position Crocs ownership in the AVP tour,” Armato said. The tour had been sponsored by Nissan, but “[Nissan] just didn’t look like active sponsors that would advance the tour,” Armato said, referring to changes in marketing at the automaker. “So we thought it was time to move on.”
To shore up its new sponsor, AVP had to reeducate consumers about the new AVP Crocs Tour name, Armato said.
The education process included getting local AVP partners to use specially created co-branded marketing materials. Meanwhile, Crocs logos were placed on volleyball nets, on courts and on athletes. A branded interactive volleyball court was also created and set up at tour stops as a locale where attendees could test their skills.
“We felt that if we were going to do something of this magnitude, we weren’t going to let it go unnoticed,” Snyder said.
In addition, a mini retail booth is set up at each of the 16 stops the tour will make this year. “We sell as many as one thousand [Crocs] pairs per event” compared to 200 pairs a month at some retail locations, Snyder said.
Thirty days after the AVP aced the agreement, Crocs created the co-branded shoes sold at events. The company currently makes 3 million pairs per month, Snyder said.
Boulder, CO-based Crocs decided to partner with the AVP because “we looked around and saw that the property had grown really quickly,” Snyder said. The footwear manufacturer was also trying to connect with consumers who knew the brand as a boater’s shoe.
“The problem was how were we going to reach people across a large demographic group?” Snyder said. In one attempt, the company launched an “Ugly can be beautiful” campaign last year that referred to the affectionate derision its shoes get from fans.
But today, the company is sticking with AVP and is considering ways to further “expand the brand in the AVP Crocs Tour,” Armato said.
The AVP handles in-house for Crocs.