Palladium Shoes Uses GPS for Treasure Hunt

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Eager to attract globetrotting shoe buffs, international footwear manufacturer Palladium will soon launch a new branding campaign tied to the increasingly popular game of geocaching.

In the online game, players are sent on a real-world treasure hunt using a global positioning system unit and map coordinates. For the campaign, Palladium will place longitude and latitude coordinates online at Palladiumshoes.com and at Geocaching.com; the coordinates will lead players to hidden treasures call caches (named for old ammunition or artillery boxes). Global positioning system units bring players within 20 to 30 feet of the cache, so players must use clues to find the box.

Once geocachers find a cache, players must log in their visit in a book inside the container and leave something in return. Typically, caches contain inexpensive items, including pens, baseball caps, T-shirts and occasionally cash. Under the promotion, Palladium will pack caches with Palladium pens, travel notebooks, pre-paid credit cards worth $10 and up, and vouchers for free shoes.

Palladium will give the geocaching game a twist, hiding caches in urban locations to create a stronger identity with the game and its brand. Typically, caches are hidden in remote, rural settings. Some 800,000 people in the U.S. actively play the geocaching game.

The promotion is slated to launch in January. Initially, 200 caches (one in each store) will be distributed to interested retailers. Palladium plans to work with a national retail chain to roll out the promotion. Details are still being finalized. The Republik, a Durham, NC-based ad agency, handles.

The campaign marks Palladium’s first major splash in the U.S. Lynchburg, VA-based Consolidated Shoe Co. bought the American rights to the French shoe line three years ago.

The Republik created the promotion to reach its target audience—”urban nomads,” or consumers 22-28 years old who are often unresponsive to traditional means of marketing, said David Smith, executive VP, chief creative officer for The Republik. Palladium shoes are travel shoes that feature a Euro-looking style. The goal behind the campaign is to match global travelers with the ultimate travel shoe, he said.

“If we did an ad buy for Palladium [positioning it] as the ultimate travel shoe, they would never buy the shoe,” Smith said. “We have to make the marketing more involved and give [consumers] a reason to try the shoe out. The game is the perfect vehicle for that.”

“A good percentage of people who are playing geocaching are urban nomads,” he added. “They are constantly in search of things to discover. In this case, it is a tangible thing…a cache. It’s a great way to expose people to the shoe, but without doing it in a very heavy-handed marketing way.”

Players likely won’t be lured by cache contents themselves, but the thrill of the hunt, Smith said. The campaign builds off the tagline, “The Destination is the Journey.” Weeks before the launch, Palladium is already generating buzz about the promotion on its Web site.

“Finding the prize is everything,” Smith said. “You just never know what you are going to find.”

Online materials and wild postings will support.

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