Crocs takes a seat at the cool kids’ table

Advertising is a lot like high school. But instead of wanting to sit with the cool kids at lunch, everyone wants to be associated with cool brands like Netflix, Apple, Doritos, or Nike. And then, on the other side of the cafeteria, you have the nerd brands. They’re known, too — but they’re the ones everyone makes fun of.

It took me awhile to realize it but working on the “nerd” brands is the best. It’s a challenge that forces you to think differently and to push harder. What’s even better is working on one of those brands when it finally breaks through with its Cinderella moment. When the glass slipper finally fits, it’s pretty sweet.

For the past four years, I’ve been lucky enough to work on Crocs. Yes, the very shoes that have given us meme after meme about your dignity leaking out of all of those little holes. But when McKinney pitched the business, instead running away from their signature Clog, we embraced it — dignity-leaking holes and all.

Although I was never a hater, I must admit that I was a little skeptical about the brand at first. That is until I did a little consumer research and tried them on. After my first visit to a Crocs store, I ended up walking away with not one but two new pairs of Crocs sandals. And I’m now the proud owner of seven pairs (eight if you count my clog keychain). What can I say, I’m hooked.

Two years ago, we launched the “Come As You Are” campaign for Crocs in the U.S., Europe and Asia, encouraging everyone to embrace the idea of just being yourself and loving you for you. In 2018, we tapped into the comfortable individuality of Drew Barrymore and had her star in a Crocs-themed musical. Who could resist Drew playfully singing and prancing along with other dancers — all “coming as they are” in their favorite style of Crocs? In Asia, we also showcased the dancing talents of K-pop stars Yoona and Henry Lau.

These efforts brought positive awareness back to Crocs. Bold, buzz-worthy partnerships further reinforced the brand’s celebration of self-expression and individuality. A platform clog collaboration with Balenciaga was seen walking the Paris Fashion Week runway. Other collaborations with fashion designers included Alife, Pleasures, and Chinatown Market. And Crocs partnered with Post Malone to sell out two separate product drops within minutes. All organic examples of the brand embracing its uniqueness to push the envelope instead of conforming to societal norms.

Being comfortable also means being okay with openly expressing yourself…in public. There’s no truer test of that than to voluntarily wear Crocs on your head via a branded Crocs Snapchat lens. The placement let avid fans proudly express their “Come As You Are” love for the Clog and share it with their closest friends and family on Snapchat. Not only that, the lens also inspired a great McKinney team Halloween costume.

Although awareness and flashy executions are important, McKinney, like any good nerd, is obsessed with results. For Crocs, we’re continuously testing and pushing ourselves and our partners to do more. Over the years, we have implemented new tactics such as Adobe Audience Manager to create custom segments and reduce waste. We have utilized Dynamic Creative Optimization to more effectively and efficiently serve the right combination of celebrity influencer, lifestyle image, product, comfort message, and price point to the right person at the right time. And we also reevaluated how we plan and buy media globally to streamline the process and provide cleaner, more actionable data.

The best part? Now we’re getting headlines like this: “Crocs Were Once The Most Hated Shoe In America, Now People Are Saying They’re Cool” and “Crocs – Yes Those Crocs – Are Officially Back in Style.” And I’m proud to be a part of this brand evolution as we continue the “Come As You Are” global campaign in 2019 and to work on a team that has been so passionate about Crocs. I have to say, the Clog fits perfectly.