Case: social campaign for Vans

How do you promote sneakers in times of lockdown, when wearing shoes is the last thing on people’s minds? Easy: you keep on eye on the current trends. And the biggest trend of the moment is the rise of the video call.

The lockdown dress code creates an opportunity for Vans to market their Comfycush range, as these shoes combine the coolness of Vans sneakers with the comfort of slippers. So no more awkwardness when you accidentally show off your casual on the bottom.

That, in essence, is the key message of the campaign. The goal is to boost conversions, while it will be targeted to teens and young adults who already have heard of or been in contact with the brand. This means that these buyers are situated in the consideration stage.

As the target audience is young, the campaign will be launched on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook.

On TikTok we’ll play to the platform’s strengths by creating a meme as a video ad. The main concept of the ad is that a person’s casual on the bottom is revealed during a video call. That’s where the Vans Comfycush range comes in.

The campaign on Instagram Stories is all about gamification: the user will be challenged to put a pair of Vans on a person by tapping and holding.

For YouTube we’ll opt for a fast paced bumper ad, as this type of ad has the most success on the platform. In the ad, we see a cat jumping on a girl’s laptop screen, revealing her novelty slippers to everyone in the video call she’s in. If only she had picked up a pair of Vans Comfycush instead …

Snapchat’s biggest strength is their immersive AR lenses. So for this campaign we’ll develop a lens that enables the user to try on the shoes. This will be combined with a video ad. The creative is basically the same as for YouTube, except that at the end you can see the girl trying out the lens.

Video carousel ads are big on Facebook. Again, the creative will be more or less the same as on YouTube, but the video will be split into a sequence of four, with the cat making his way through the carousel to get users to swipe through it. On top of that, Vans will engage in some banter with leading slipper brands, like UGG and Crocs, by posting the ad on their wall.

The reigning dress code during lockdown

Since we’ve been in lockdown, the dress code has mostly been business on top, casual on the bottom (or underwear on the bottom, here’s looking at you, BDW). Makes sense, as people only see you from the top up in a video call. Hence the current popularity of lounge wear and home slippers.

But that dress code has also resulted in some awkward situations, like when you have to get up mid-meeting or have a mirror behind you (here’s looking at you again, BDW) and your casual on the bottom is revealed to everyone in the call.

Bart De Wever
Bart De Wever, Belgian politician, during a video interview … in his underwear

Now imagine wearing the most ridiculous home slippers, like novelty slippers. Comfy, but doesn’t do wonders for your cool, now does it?

Keeping it cool with Vans Comfycush

That’s where the Vans Comfycush range comes in. The range combines the look of sneakers with the comfort of home slippers at an affordable price. So perfect to keep your cool during lockdown!

Vans Comfycush
Vans Comfycush Old Skool

And that coolness factor is important for Vans, as the brand positions itself as cool and unique. That’s also clear from their target group: traditionally they’ve always targeted young males with a love for extreme sports, like skateboarding. But during the last decade or so, Vans has also been positioned as a streetwear brand for teens and young adults.

Awkwardness as the key message

As previously touched on, the campaign revolves around the awkwardness stemming from the lockdown dress code and how the Vans Comfycush line can help to avoid some of that awkwardness.

The goal of the campaign is to boost conversions, so in other words, drive sales. The campaign will be targeted to teens and young adults who already have heard of and been in contact with the brand. However, the Comfycush range can be entirely new for them.

This means that these buyers have already passed a few stages in the marketing funnel and are situated in the MoFu (Middle of the Funnel) or the consideration stage.

Campaign details

Social is where it’s at

This campaign will target teens and young adults. This is actually an interesting target audience, as Gen Z is not the easiest group to reach. One thing is for sure: they are digital natives with a love for social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat & Facebook. It goes without saying this ad campaign should focus on these platforms.

Popularity of platforms among Gen Zers in % compared to the total population

TikTok is the new kid on the block. This short-form video sharing app allows users to create and share videos. During lockdown the app rose to fame and in that short amount of time, TikTok has become the sixth largest social network. Moreover, 60% of TikTok users are Gen Zers.

Next in line is Instagram, initially a photo sharing social network. Later on new features like videos, Stories and Reels were added to keep up with competitors like Snapchat and TikTok. While Instagram isn’t their most loved platform, Gen Z still makes up for more than 37% of the audience.

Online video sharing site YouTube is another popular platform amongst Gen Z. In fact, 15% of the YouTube population are Gen Zers. This makes them the third largest generation on the platform. Noteworthy, as YouTube is actually the second biggest website AND second biggest social network worldwide.

Although messaging app Snapchat isn’t as big as it once used to be, the platform still continues to draw in Gen Zers. To be precise: 59% of the total population on the platform are members of Gen Z. So there’s definitely still potential in the platform to reach the younger demographic.

Social networking site Facebook may be the odd one out as it is one of the oldest social media platforms out there. But globally it’s also the most popular and the most powerful advertising wise. Over 23% of people using Facebook are Gen Zers.

Leveraging the platforms for the campaign

The question is how Vans can adapt the key message to fit each platform and the goals of the campaign.

TikTok: memes are taking over

TikTok and memes are basically synonymous, so it makes sense to play to the platform’s strengths by creating a meme as an ad. By opting for a 15-second in-feed ad, which appears as users scroll through videos on the For You page, the ad is even more powerful and has an organic feel to it.

Creative

There are three ad variants, based around the awkwardness of the lockdown attire:

Instagram: the power of gamification

One of the biggest trends on the gram, especially on Instagram Stories, is gamification. This obviously creates an opportunity for Vans. And with over 500 million people using Instagram Stories every day, success is almost guaranteed. On top of that, by opting for a native stories carousel, up to 3 cards can be shown in one ad.

Creative

There are two ad variants:

YouTube: scoring with bumper ads

Bumper ads are 6-second non-skippable ads that play before content the viewer wants to watch. Research has shown that ads before a video, also called pre-rolls, resonate better with mobile users compared to mid-roll (an ad in the middle of a video) and outstream ads (an ad at the end of a video). Another advantage is that viewers are more prone to willingly watch the ad in its entirety.

Creative

As this is a 6-second ad, it will be a very fast paced video. First, we see a cat on a shelf. Next, we see a girl sitting behind her laptop on a video call. Then the cat jumps on her screen, revealing his owner’s novelty slippers to everyone in the call. Next, the Vans Comfycush sneakers quickly slide in frame, with the copy “Keep it comfy & cool with Comfycush” on the screen and in a deep manly voice over.

Snapchat: fun with lenses

Snapchat’s biggest strength is probably their immersive AR lenses. In fact, users spend a whopping 3 minutes trying out a lens. That’s a lot of valuable time to connect with a brand and a product. It’s a given that Vans needs to use this to its advantage. And to do that, the lens will be combined with a video ad to promote it.

Creative

By combining a face and a world lens, users will be able to try on the Vans Comfycush sneakers, preferably even over their slippers, to really mix comfort with coolness. Directly from the lens, they will be able to purchase the shoes.

In promotion of the lens, there will also be a video ad. First, we see a cat on a shelf. Next, we see a girl sitting behind her laptop on a video call. Then the cat jumps on her screen, revealing his owner’s novelty slippers to everyone in the call. Next, the Vans Comfycush sneakers quickly slide in frame, with the copy “Keep it comfy & cool with Comfycush” on the screen and in a deep manly voice over. Lastly, you see the girl trying out the lens.

Facebook: video carousels FTW

Research suggests that carousel ads contribute to better conversion rates compared to single image ads. Adding video in the mix leads to even better results, as video drives higher favorability than static photos. Plus, the videos in a carousel ad autoplay on mobile, which makes these ads even more showstopping.

Creative

In the first video, we see a cat on a shelf. In the background, you can hear someone in a conversation.
In the next video, the cat jumps down from the shelf, right on the laptop screen, and next onto the floor.
The cat’s jump on the screen reveals the owner’s novelty slippers, which now everyone on the video call can see. Embarrassed, she closes the laptop.
Next, the Vans Comfycush sneakers quickly slide in frame, with the copy “Keep it comfy & cool with Comfycush” on the screen and in a deep manly voice over.

Engaging in banter with other brands

As the campaign makes fun of ugly slippers, this poses an ideal opportunity to have some banter with well known ugly slipper brands. We’ll post the ad on the wall of brands like Crocs, Nike, Adidas, UGG and Woolrich with the copy “Sorry not sorry 🙊”.

I am in no way affiliated with Vans, nor is this a real campaign for the brand. This case just came about as I myself am a big Vans fan and wanted to conceptualize a social campaign for a brand near and dear to my heart.

Curious about the previous challenges of the month? Discover them here.

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